The Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition (best newspaper read there is) ran a lead editorial praising Chicago-based U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne Conlon for dismissing a securities class action suit against Boeing by the city of Livonia’s retirement system, calling her ruling “the biggest plaintiff smackdown of the year.” As summarized in the editorial, “Boeing Beats the Trial Bar,”[subscription] the plaintiffs failed to survive Boeing’s original motion to dismiss for lack of sufficiently specific allegations of fraud or fraudulent intent, but the judge allowed them to refile.
Presto, they did. In their amended complaint, the plaintiffs claimed they had a confidential source, a former Boeing chief engineer, who had worked directly with the Dreamliner and had seen damning emails and files related to the flight delay.
On that basis, the judge allowed the case to go forward. Only problem, the plaintiffs had no such thing. When the motion to dismiss was denied, the plaintiffs revealed the source as Bishnujee Singh. Not only had the plaintiffs falsely identified him as a senior engineer with access to 787 records, he didn’t even work for Boeing. “In reality,” the judge wrote, “he was employed as a line engineer by an outside contractor doing work at Boeing three or four months after the events in issue.”
U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne Conlon’s order and memorandum in City of Livonia Employees’ Retirement System v. Boeing Company is available here. The shakedown suit came from the schemers at Robbins Geller, a successor law firm to Coughlin Stoia of Bill Lerach infamy.
- Daniel Fisher, Forbes (blog), March 14, “Judge Tosses Boeing Suit After “Confidential Witness” Recants”
- Chicago Tribune, March 13, “Securities fraud case against Boeing dismissed, but only after lots of drama”
- ABA Journal, March 14, “Robbins Geller’s Suit Is Tossed After Its Insider Source Disavows Claims”
P.S. Not only did the judge get the ruling right, she also framed the case in a creative way. (continue reading…)