A class action was commenced in 2005 against Smith Barney and others, alleging securities fraud in connection with the purchase of shares in the Smith Barney Capital Preservation Fund (SBCPF) by members of the proposed class.
Six years later, after the consolidation of several proceedings, certification, the appointment of a lead plaintiff and lead counsel, numerous motions, an appeal and denial of a request to intervene, lead counsel wrote to the US District Court in Manhattan to say that, um, actually, the lead plaintiff had bought units in a different Smith Barney fund, which had a similar name but was not part of the litigation at all. In other words, the lead plaintiff was never a proper plaintiff at all.
Pauley DJ was none too pleased by the ‘epic failures’ of counsel, the breeziness of the letter admitting the error and counsel’s utter lack of contrition for wasting the courts’ time: In re Smith Barney Transfer Litigation (SDNY, 22 September 2011). [Link available here]. This was not some ‘mere scrivener’s error’: it was an event of ‘seismic’ proportions given that the litigation had by this point assumed ‘Sisyphean dimensions’. Back to square one, the search for lead plaintiff and lead counsel.