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Stacey M. Kaplan

Partner

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F   415.400.3001

Stacey M. Kaplan, a partner in the Firm’s San Francisco office, concentrates her practice in the area of complex securities litigation. 

Stacey has represented individual and institutional investors in a variety of securities class actions in which the Firm has served as Lead or Co-Lead Counsel, and has contributed to the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of defrauded investors.  

Community Involvement

Stacey served on a team of attorneys representing the Unitarian Universalist Association, General Synod of the United Church of Christ, Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, Progressive Jewish Alliance, California Council of Churches, and other religious organizations, as amici curiae, challenging the validity of Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.  More recently, Stacey represented the California Council of Churches, California Faith for Equality, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry California, Northern California Nevada Conference, United Church of Christ, Southern California Conference, United Church of Christ, Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, and California Network of Metropolitan Community Churches, as amici curiae, arguing to the United States Supreme Court that civil marriage is a civil right that cannot be withheld from same-sex couples.

Awards/Rankings

  • Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyer, 2019-2021
  • Judicial Extern for the Honorable Terry J. Hatter, Jr., United States District Court, Central District of California
Experience

Landmark Results

  • Allergan stockholders alleged that in February 2014, Valeant tipped Pershing Square founder Bill Ackman about its plan to launch a hostile bid for Allergan. Armed with this nonpublic information, Pershing then bought 29 million shares of stock from unsuspecting investors, who were unaware of the takeover bid that Valeant was preparing in concert with the hedge fund. When Valeant publicized its bid in April 2014, Allergan stock shot up by $20 per share, earning Pershing $1 billion in profits in a single day.

    Valeant’s bid spawned a bidding war for Allergan. The company was eventually sold to Actavis PLC for approximately $66 billion.

    Stockholders filed suit in 2014 in federal court in the Central District of California, where Judge David O. Carter presided over the case. Judge Carter appointed the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (“Iowa”) and the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (“Ohio”) as lead plaintiffs, and appointed Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP and Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, LLP as lead counsel.

    The court denied motions to dismiss the litigation in 2015 and 2016, and in 2017 certified a class of Allergan investors who sold common stock during the period when Pershing was buying.

    Earlier in December, the Court held a four-day hearing on dueling motions for summary judgment, with investors arguing that the Court should enter a liability judgment against Defendants, and Defendants arguing that the Court should throw out the case. A ruling was expected on those motions within coming days.

    The settlement reached resolves both the certified stockholder class action, which was set for trial on February 26, 2018, and the action brought on behalf of investors who traded in Allergan derivative instruments. Defendants are paying $250 million to resolve the certified common stock class action, and an additional $40 million to resolve the derivative case.

    Lee Rudy, a partner at Kessler Topaz and co-lead counsel for the common stock class, commented: “This settlement not only forces Valeant and Pershing to pay back hundreds of millions of dollars, it strikes a blow for the little guy who often believes, with good reason, that the stock market is rigged by more sophisticated players. Although we were fully prepared to present our case to a jury at trial, a pre-trial settlement guarantees significant relief to our class of investors who played by the rules.”

  • After over five years of hard-fought litigation, on February 19, 2020, Judge Michael M. Anello of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granted preliminary approval of a class action settlement brought on behalf of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. shareholders.  Since December 2014, Kessler Topaz has served as co-lead counsel in the litigation. 

    The case alleges that SeaWorld and its former executives issued materially false and misleading statements during the Class Period about the impact on SeaWorld’s business of Blackfish, a highly publicized documentary film released in 2013, in violation of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act of 1934.  Defendants repeatedly told the market that the film and its related negative publicity were not affecting SeaWorld’s attendance or business at all.  When the underlying truth of Blackfish’s impact on the business finally came to light in August 2014, SeaWorld’s stock price lost approximately 33% of its value in one day, causing substantial losses to class members.

    In April 2019, after the close of fact and expert discovery, Defendants moved for summary judgment on all claims—their last and best opportunity to avoid a jury trial on the Class’s claims through a dispositive motion.  After highly contested briefing and oral argument, in November 2019 the Court held in a 98-page opinion that Plaintiffs had successfully shown that the claims should go to a jury.

    With summary judgment denied and the parties preparing for a February 2020 trial, the parties reached a $65 million cash settlement for SeaWorld’s investors.  

Publications

How a Dissent Produced a Majority Rationale, American Association for Justice, Business Torts Program Annual Conference (2013)