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Margaret E. Mazzeo

Partner

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Margaret E. Mazzeo, a partner of the Firm, concentrates her practice in the area of securities fraud litigation. Since joining the firm, Margaret has represented shareholders in several securities fraud class actions and direct actions, through all aspects of pre-trial proceedings, including complaint drafting, litigating motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, conducting document, deposition and expert discovery, and appeal. Margaret was a member of the trial team that recently won a jury verdict in favor of investors in the In re Longtop Financial Technologies Ltd. Securities Litigation, No. 11-cv-3658 (S.D.N.Y.) action.

Experience

Current Cases

  • CASE CAPTION In re Celgene Corporation Securities Litigation
    COURT United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
    CASE NUMBER 2:18-cv-04772-JMV-JBC
    JUDGE Honorable John Michael Vazquez and Honorable James B. Clark, III
    PLAINTIFF AMF Pensionsförsäkring AB (“AMF”)
    DEFENDANTS Celgene Corporation (“Celgene”), Scott A. Smith, Terrie Curran, and Philippe Martin
    CLASS PERIOD April 27, 2017 through April 27, 2018, inclusive

    This securities fraud case involves Celgene’s misrepresentations and omissions about two billion dollar drugs, Otezla and Ozanimod, that Celgene touted as products that would make up for the anticipated revenue drop following the patent expiration of Celgene’s most profitable drug, Revlimid.

    Celgene launched Otezla, a drug treating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, in 2014. Celgene primed the market that Otezla sales were poised to sky-rocket, representing that Otezla net product sales would reach $1.5 billion to $2 billion by 2017. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Defendants represented that Celgene was on-track to meet the 2017 sales projection. As early as mid-2016, however, Defendants received explicit internal warnings that the 2017 projection was unattainable, but continued to reaffirm the 2017 target to investors. By October 2017, however, Celgene announced that the Company had slashed the 2017 guidance by more than $250 million and lowered the 2020 Inflammatory & Immunology (“I&I”) guidance by over $1 billion. Celgene’s stock price plummeted on the news.

    Ozanimod, a drug treating multiple sclerosis, is another product in Celgene’s I&I pipeline, and was initially developed by a different company, Receptos. In July 2015, Celgene purchased Receptos for $7.2 billion and projected annual Ozanimod sales of up to $6 billion despite the fact that Ozanimod was not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”).

    Celgene told investors that it would file a New Drug Application (“NDA”) for Ozanimod with the FDA in 2017. Unbeknownst to investors, however, Celgene discovered a metabolite named CC112273 (the “Metabolite”) through Phase I testing that Celgene started in October 2016, which triggered the need for extensive testing that was required before the FDA would approve the drug. Despite the need for this additional Metabolite testing that would extend beyond 2017, Defendants continued to represent that Celgene was on track to submit the NDA before the end of 2017 and concealed all information about the Metabolite.  In December 2017, without obtaining the required Metabolite study results, Celgene submitted the Ozanimod NDA to the FDA. Two months later, the FDA rejected the NDA by issuing a rare “refuse to file,” indicating that the FDA “identifie[d] clear and obvious deficiencies” in the NDA.  When the relevant truth was revealed concerning Ozanimod, Celgene’s stock price fell precipitously, damaging investors.   

    On February 27, 2019, AMF filed a 207-page Second Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint against Celgene and its executives under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act. On December 19, 2019, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vasquez issued a 49-page opinion sustaining AMF’s claims as to (1) Celgene’s and Curran’s misstatements regarding Otezla being on track to meet Celgene’s 2017 sales projections, and (2) Celgene’s, Martin’s, and Smith’s misstatements about the state of Ozanimod’s testing and prospects for regulatory approval.

    On November 29, 2020, Judge Vasquez certified a class of “All persons and entities who purchased the common stock of Celgene Corp. between April 27, 2017 through and April 27, 2018, and were damaged thereby” and appointed Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check as Class Counsel.

    On July 9, 2021, Plaintiff moved to amend the Second Amended Complaint and file the Third Amended Complaint, which alleged a new statement regarding Otezla, and added new allegations based on evidence obtained in discovery regarding Ozanimod. On February 24, 2022, Magistrate Judge James B. Clark granted the motion to amend, which Defendants appealed. On June 1, 2022, Judge Vazquez issued an opinion denying Defendants’ appeal. Expert discovery is ongoing.

    Read Second Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint Here

    Read Opinion Granting and Denying in Part Motion to Dismiss Here

    Read Opinion Granting Class Certification Here

    Click Here to Read the Class Notice

  •   CASE CAPTION                       Pontiac, City of General Employees Retirement System v. First Solar Incorporated, et al.
      COURT  United States District Court for the District of Arizona
      CASE NUMBER 2:22-cv-00036-MTL
      JUDGE Honorable Michael T. Liburdi
      PLAINTIFF

    Palm Harbor Special Fire Control & Rescue District Firefighters’ Pension Plan (“Palm Harbor”) and Greater Pennsylvania Carpenters’ Pension Fund (“Pennsylvania Carpenters”)

      DEFENDANTS First Solar, Inc. (“First Solar” or the “Company”), Mark Widmar, Alexander R. Bradley, and Georges Antoun
      CLASS PERIOD February 22, 2019 through February 20, 2020, inclusive

    This securities fraud class action arises out of First Solar’s alleged misrepresentations and omissions concerning its Series 6 solar power modules and its Project Development division. In late 2017, First Solar announced that it was transitioning to the Series 6 solar module as its flagship product and phasing out the Company’s existing Series 4 module. In connection with this transition, Defendants touted the significantly higher output (measured in watts per module) and lower cost (measured in cost per watt) of the Series 6 compared to the Series 4.  During the Class Period, Defendants repeatedly assured investors that the Series 6 was meeting the necessary milestones to achieve the targeted watts per module and cost per watt figures. Unbeknownst to the market, however, the Series 6 was plagued by manufacturing and performance defects that were negatively impacting both metrics. At the same time that they were concealing these issues with the Series 6, Defendants also failed to disclose that First Solar’s Project Development division had lost significant market share, that its project pipeline was rapidly dwindling, and that the Company was looking to divest this business. The truth concerning the state of affairs within the Company was eventually revealed to the public through disclosures on January 15, 2020 and February 20, 2020. Following these revelations, First Solar’s stock price fell precipitously.

    On June 23, 2022, Palm Harbor and Pennsylvania Carpenters filed an Amended Complaint on behalf of a putative class of investors alleging that First Solar and certain of its current executives violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act by making false and misleading statements and concealing material facts about the manufacturing and performance issues with the Company’s Series 6 modules and its struggling Project Development division. On August 22, 2022, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs will oppose that motion on October 21, 2022.

    Read Amended Class Action Complaint Here

  • CASE CAPTION            In re re Kraft Heinz Securities Litigation
    COURT United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    CASE NUMBER 1:19-cv-01339
    JUDGE Honorable Robert M. Dow, Jr.
    PLAINTIFF Union Asset Management Holding AG, Sjunde Ap-Fonden, and Booker Enterprises Pty Ltd.
    DEFENDANTS The Kraft Heinz Company (“Kraft” or the “Company”), 3G Capital Partners, 3G Capital, Inc., 3G Global Food Holdings, L.P., 3G Global Food Holdings GP LP, 3G Capital Partners LP, 3G Capital Partners II LP, 3G Capital Partners Ltd., Bernardo Hees, Paulo Basilio, David Knopf, Alexandre Behring, George Zoghbi, and Rafael Oliveira
    CLASS PERIOD November 5, 2015 through August 7, 2019, inclusive

    This securities fraud class action case arises out Defendants’ misstatements regarding the Company’s financial position, including the carrying value of Kraft Heinz’s assets, the sustainability of the Company’s margins, and the success of recent cost-cutting strategies by Kraft Heinz.

    Kraft Heinz is one of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturer and produces well-known brands including Kraft, Heinz, Oscar Mayer, Jell-O, Maxwell House, and Velveeta. The Company was formed as the result of the 2015 merger between Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and H.J. Heinz Holding Corporation. That merger was orchestrated by the private equity firm 3G Capital (“3G”) and Berkshire Hathaway with the intention of wringing out excess costs from the legacy companies. 3G is particularly well-known for its strategy of buying mature companies with relatively slower growth and then cutting costs using “zero-based budgeting,” in which the budget for every expenditure begins at $0 with increases being justified during every period.

    Plaintiffs allege that Kraft misrepresented the carrying value of its assets, sustainability of its margins, and the success of the Company’s cost-cutting strategy in the wake of the 2015 merger. During the time that Kraft was making these misrepresentations and artificially inflating its stock price, Kraft’s private equity sponsor, 3G Capital, sold $1.2 billion worth of Kraft stock.

    On February 21, 2019, Kraft announced that it was forced to take a goodwill charge of $15.4 billion to write-down the value of the Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands—one of the largest goodwill impairment charges taken by any company since the financial crisis. In connection with the charge, Kraft also announced that it would cut its dividend by 36% and incur a $12.6 billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2018. That loss was driven not only by Kraft’s write-down, but also by plunging margins and lower pricing throughout Kraft’s core business. In response, analysts immediately criticized the Company for concealing and “push[ing] forward” the “bad news” and characterized the Company’s industry-leading margins as a “façade.”

    Heightening investor concerns, Kraft also revealed that it received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the same quarter it determined to take this write-down and was conducting an internal investigation relating to the Company’s side-agreements with vendors in its procurement division. Because of this subpoena and internal investigation, Kraft was also forced to take a separate $25 million charge relating to its accounting practices. Plaintiffs allege that because of the Company’s misrepresentations, the price of Kraft’s shares traded at artificially-inflated levels during the Class Period.

    On August 11, 2021, The Honorable Robert M. Dow, Jr. sustained Plaintiffs’ complaint. The case is now in discovery.  In March 2022, Plaintiffs moved for class certification.  

    Read Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint Here

    Read Opinion and Order Denying Motion to Dismiss Here

    Read Motion for Class Certification Here

Landmark Results

  • Kessler Topaz represented Lead Plaintiff Sjunde-AP Fonden, one of Sweden’s largest pension funds, in this long-running securities fraud class action before The Honorable Katharine S. Hayden of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The $130 million recovery is the first settlement of a federal securities case arising out of the industrywide generic drug price-fixing scandal which first came to light when Congress launched an investigation into the historic increases in generic drug prices. The price-fixing conspiracy, led by Allergan and several other drug makers, is believed to be the largest domestic pharmaceutical cartel in U.S. history. Shareholders alleged that notwithstanding Allergan’s prominent role in this illicit scheme, the company repeatedly misrepresented to investors that it was not engaged in anticompetitive conduct—even as Allergan became ensnared in an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and 46 state attorneys general.

    For four years, a team of Kessler Topaz litigators prosecuted these claims from the initial investigation and drafting of the complaint through full fact discovery and class certification proceedings. On August 6, 2019, Judge Hayden issued a 31-page opinion denying defendants’ motions to dismiss the complaint, sustaining investors’ claims in full, and firmly establishing a shareholder-plaintiff’s ability to pursue securities fraud claims based on the concealment of an underlying antitrust conspiracy. The parties’ settlement was approved by the Court on November 22, 2021, marking a historic recovery for investors and sending a strong message to drug makers engaged in anticompetitive conduct.

  • As co-lead counsel representing the Maine Public Employees’ Retirement System, secured a $500 million settlement for a class of plaintiffs that purchased mortgage-backed securities (MBS) issued by Countrywide Financial Corporation (Countrywide).

    Plaintiffs alleged that Countrywide and various of its subsidiaries, officers and investment banks made false and misleading statements in more than 450 prospectus supplements relating to the issuance of subprime and Alt-A MBS—in particular, the quality of the underlying loans. When information about the loans became public, the plaintiffs’ investments declined in value. The ensuing six-year litigation raised several issues of first impression in the Ninth Circuit.

Publications

Matthew L. Mustokoff and Margaret E. Mazzeo, “Proving Securities Fraud Damages at Trial,” 46 Rev. of Securities & Commodities Regulation, 145-54 (2013)

Matthew L. Mustokoff and Margaret Mazzeo, “The Maintenance Theory of Inflation in Fraud-on-the-Market Cases,” 40 Securities Regulation Law Journal (2012)