Articles Posted in Securities Law

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Forquest Ventures was formed to operate a placer mining enterprise in Helena, Montana. Ken Hagman relied on purported assay reports of the site allegedly performed by Advanced Analytical before incorporating Forquest. Following incorporation, Forquest sold or issued stock to investors, including Investors. Because there was little precious metal content at the site, Forquest realized no profits and Investors received no return on their investments. Emilio and Candice Garza, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated Forquest investors, sued. The Garzas then filed an amended complaint adding the other Investors as named plaintiffs. Forquest filed a third-party complaint against Advanced Analytical. The district court granted summary judgment to Investors on their Montana Securities Act (Act) claims and granted Advanced Analytical’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) correctly determined that Investors timely asserted their claims under the Act; (2) did not err in determining that the non-Garza Investors’ claims relate back to the original complaint’s filing date; (3) correctly determined that there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding Forquest’s failure to use reasonable care in the sale of securities to Investors; but (4) erred in dismissing Advanced Analytical for lack of personal jurisdiction. View "Garza v. Forquest Ventures, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted for failure to register as a securities salesperson, failure to register a security, and fraudulent practices, all felonies. The district court sentenced him to three concurrent ten-year sentences with all but ninety days suspended, plus restitution and court costs. The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction for fraudulent practices and otherwise affirmed, holding (1) the term “security” was adequately defined for the jury; (2) the State provided sufficient evidence to prove Defendant sold a security; (3) the district court correctly instructed the jury in accordance with the statutory definition of “willfully”; (4) sufficient evidence existed to support the jury’s finding that Defendant had the requisite mental state to violate the Securities Act, and because Defendant was not convicted of a strict liability offense, his ten-year sentence did not violate his due process rights; (5) the district court erred by instructing the jury that the willful omission of a prospectus constituted fraudulent practices; and (6) Defendant was properly sentenced. Remanded for a new trial on the fraudulent practices charge. View "State v. Himes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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Petitioner Billie L. Redding asked the Supreme Court to exercise supervisory control over the First Judicial District Court, Lewis and Clark County, and to conclude it was error for the District Court to grant partial summary judgment to Defendants Timothy Janiak; Anderson ZurMuehlen & Co., P.C.; Ray E. Petersen; and Rick Ahmann. Petitioner's case arose from a series of real estate transactions by which she sold her property to Defendants for which she would receive payments from them which would serve as her monthly income. The scheme by which Defendants paid Petitioner and their other real estate clients collapsed in 2008 (as a Ponzi scheme), and they filed for bankruptcy. Petitioner sued, alleging: (1) unlawful sale of securities; (2) negligence; (3) negligent misrepresentation; (4) breach of fiduciary duty; (5) breach of contract; and (6) tortious breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Petitioner sought damages in the amount of $4,635,485.51, plus additional amounts for punitive damages, emotional distress, loss of established course of life, and consequential damages. Petitioner moved for summary judgment on several issues, the only issue before the Court was whether the "investments" Petitioner made with Defendants qualified as "securities" under the state Securities Act. The district court found that Petitioner "did not engage in a common enterprise," an essential element of an investment contract (i.e. a security), because she "did not share the risks of the investment with other investors because she agreed upon a contractually set return on her investment." Upon review, the Supreme Court determined that supervisory control was appropriate in this case and that the real estate transactions in question here were indeed securities. Accordingly the Court granted Petitioner's request for a Writ of Supervisory Control. View "Redding v. Montana 1st Jud. District" on Justia Law

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The Montana Department of Revenue ("Department") appealed a judgment reversing the State Tax Appeal Board's ("STAB") conclusion that the Department had applied a "commonly accepted" method to assess the value of PacificCorp's Montana properties. At issue was whether substantial evidence demonstrated common acceptance of the Department's direct capitalization method that derived earnings-to-price ratios from an industry-wide analysis. Also at issue was whether substantial evidence supported STAB's conclusion that additional obsolescence did not exist to warrant consideration of further adjustments to PacifiCorp's taxable value. The court held that substantial evidence supported the Department's use of earnings-to-price ratios in its direct capitalization approach; that additional depreciation deductions were not warranted; and that the Department did not overvalue PacifiCorp's property. The court also held that MCA 15-8-111(2)(b) did not require the Department to conduct a separate, additional obsolescence study when no evidence suggested that obsolescence existed that has not been accounted for in the taxpayer's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") Form 1 filing. The court further held that STAB correctly determined that the actual $9.4 billion sales price of PacifiCorp verified that the Department's $7.1 billion assessment had not overvalued PacifiCorp's properties.