In Azim v. Tortoise Capital Advisors, LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150324 (D. Kan. Nov. 5, 2015), the court was asked to dismiss a Dodd-Frank retaliation claim because the plaintiff, a vice president at an advisory firm, had not provided information to the SEC. This is significant because whether a plaintiff is required to provide information to the SEC was a question of first impression in the court and had not been considered by the Tenth Circuit. After considering the parties’ arguments (and the SEC’s amicus brief), the court declined to resolve the “intriguing question.”
Instead, the court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the plaintiff had not internally reported potential securities law violations; rather, he had complained about management’s incompetence, mistakes, and management style. Although some of the plaintiff’s complaints related to his employer’s attempts to raise investment assets from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the court concluded that none of the complaints suggested violations of securities laws.
In addition, the court concluded that the plaintiff had not produced evidence that he had been terminated in retaliation for reporting a securities law violation. Rather, the facts established that he had been terminated for making critical and disparaging remarks about his employer and its management and for making unreasonable demands before he would return to work.