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Let’s Be Frank: The Future Direction of Controlling …

Let’s Be Frank: The Future Direction of Controlling Person Liability Remains Uncertain “The explicit authority under Dodd-Frank to use control person liability

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Let s Be Frank: The Future Direction of Controlling Person Liability Remains Uncertain The explicit authority under Dodd-Frank to use control person liability under the Exchange Act may encourage further expansion of this theory of liability to attempt to cover those who are simply around a violation or where a violation occurs within their chain of command. 1 I. INTRODUCTION In the wake of the Great Depression, Congress enacted the Securities Act of 1933 (1933 Act) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (1934 Act).2 Together, the Acts provide the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with broad authority over the securities industry, and institute methods for holding those who commit securities fraud Section 15 of the 1933 Act and section 20(a) of the 1934 Act establish controlling person liability, a mechanism for establishing secondary liability against corporate directors and officers for securities fraud committed by their Section 15 of the 1933 Act merely permits controlling person liability to be pursued if very limited types of securities fraud have been As a result, pursuing a controlling person liability claim under section 20(a) of the 1934 Act has historically been both the SEC and private litigants preferred course of action as it broadly allows for secondary liability to be attached to any underlying 1. Bruce Hiler & Sharon Rose, Expansion of the SEC s Enforcement Powers Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, 17 World Sec. L. Rep. (BNA) 3 (Jan. 2011), available at 2. See 1 LOUIS LOSS, SECURITIES REGULATION 120-21 (2d ed. 1961) (describing effects of Great Depression on implementation of 1933 and 1934 Acts); see also Laura Greco, Note, The Buck Stops Where?: Defining Controlling Person Liability, 73 S. CAL. L. REV. 169, 169 (1999) (providing intent of Congress to prevent recurrence of event similar to Great Depression). 3. See The Laws That Govern the Securities Industry, SEC, (last modified Aug. 30, 2012) (providing description and purpose of 1933 and 1934 Acts). 4. See SEC v. First Jersey Sec., Inc., 101 1450, 1472-73 (2d Cir. 1996) (describing section 20(a) controlling person liability s use as enforcement mechanism). 5. See 15 77o (2006 & Supp. V 2011) (providing 1933 Act section 15 controlling person liability). Section 15 controlling person liability is extremely narrow because controlling persons can only be held jointly and severally liable if they control persons liable under sections 77k or 77l of the 1933 Act, which pertain to civil liability for false registration statements and for both prospectuses and communications respectively. Id.; see also 15 77k (2006) (discussing civil liabilities in connection with false registration statements); 15 77l (2006) (regarding civil liabilities in connection with prospectuses and communications). 552 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 security claim within the While drafting both Acts, Congress consciously refrained from defining the term control because it believed that courts could effectively apply the term depending on the given facts of a Therefore, varying standards of controlling person liability have evolved throughout the judicial system, including within federal circuit and district Recently, in continuing efforts to protect investors, Congress has enacted a substantial piece of legislation that may help shed light on the inconsistent application of controlling person liability: the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank).9 In recent history, circuit courts have been split as to whether the SEC has authority to utilize 1934 Act section 20(a) controlling person liability within its enforcement Section 929P(c) of Dodd-Frank addresses this issue, clarifying that the SEC has authority to bring actions founded on section 20(a) controlling person Nevertheless, the controlling person liability issue may remain at the forefront of securities litigation as the SEC seeks to hold corporate officers and directors secondarily liable under section 20(a).12 This Note examines Dodd-Frank s potential effect on the current state of the law regarding controlling person Part provides a review of the legislative history of the 1933 and 1934 Acts and their respective controlling person liability Part discusses the varying judicial interpretations and confusion surrounding sections 15 and 20(a) controlling 6. See 15 78t (2006 & Supp. V 2011) (providing controlling person liability pursuant to section 20(a) of 1934 Act). Section 20(a) of the 1934 Act is much broader than the controlling person liability established under the 1933 Act, as it allows for joint and several liability to attach to any person found liable under any provision of this chapter or of any rule or regulation thereunder. Id. 78t(a). 7. See Nancy C. Staudt, Note, Controlling Securities Fraud: Proposed Liability Standards for Controlling Persons Under the 1933 and 1934 Securities Acts, 72 MINN. L. REV. 930, 938-39 (1988) (describing congressional purpose for not defining control); see also 77o (defining controlling persons while failing to define control); 78t (failing to define control). 8. See In re WorldCom, Inc. Sec. Litig., 294 F. Supp. 2d 392, 414 ( 2003) (describing lack of clarity surrounding controlling person liability standard). The phrase culpable participation is at the root of the confusion regarding the proper standard to apply when pleading controlling person liability. Id. 9. See Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-203, 929P(c), 124 Stat. 1376, 1865 (2010) (expressly providing SEC with power to bring controlling person liability enforcement actions). 10. See infra notes 100-03 and accompanying text (discussing various interpretations as to whether SEC can bring controlling person liability enforcement actions). 11. See Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 929P(c) (providing SEC with express authority to bring enforcement actions regarding controlling persons liability); see also Hiler & Rose, supra note 1, at 3 (discussing SEC s power to bring actions under section 20(a) pursuant to 929P(c) of Dodd-Frank). 12. See Hiler & Rose, supra note 1, at 3-4 (considering potential for SEC to question wider range of conduct under section 929P(c) of Dodd-Frank). 13. See infra Part (discussing Dodd-Frank and SEC s potential yearning to utilize potential influence standard). 14. See infra Part (discussing legislative history regarding controlling person liability). 2013] LET S BE FRANK 553 person Part discusses both the implementation of Dodd-Frank and prior inconsistent views as to whether the SEC has the power to bring controlling person liability actions pursuant to section 20(a).16 Finally, Part III examines the two controlling person liability standards culpable participation and potential control and suggests which of the two the SEC would likely find more II. HISTORY A. Statutory History of Controlling Person Liability In response to the stock market crash of October 1929, Congress adopted the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of Although the two acts serve the same general purpose to discourage fraud and provide investors with adequate information they regulate different activities within the securities The 1933 Act primarily concerns the initial distribution process of securities, requiring entities seeking to issue securities to provide specific information to potential purchasers and the In contrast, the 1934 Act created the SEC for the basic purposes of regulating the securities markets and affording remedies for fraud in securities The 1933 and 1934 Acts provide investors with legal recourse against persons who are primarily liable under the Acts, but Congress also expressly provided for secondary liability through the creation of section 15 of the 1933 15. See infra Part (describing various standards of controlling person liability). 16. See infra Part 17. See infra Part III. 18. See LOSS, supra note 2, at 120-21 (describing Great Depression s financial impact on United States). On March 29, 1933, President Roosevelt urged Congress to enact a law on the issuance of securities. Id. at 121. Shortly thereafter, the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and the Banking Act of 1933 were adopted. Id. 19. See id. at 123 (detailing philosophy of enactment); see also Staudt, supra note 7, at 934 (providing historical motive for implementation of 1933 and 1934 Acts). 20. See LOSS, supra note 2, at 130 (outlining general purposes of 1933 Act); see also Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 185, 195 (1976) (describing purpose of 1933 Act). The Securities Act of 1933 was designed to provide investors with full disclosure of material information concerning public offerings of securities in commerce, to protect investors against fraud and, through the imposition of specified civil liabilities, to promote ethical standards of honesty and fair dealing. Hochfelder, 425 at 195. 21. See LOSS, supra note 2, at 130-31 (outlining general purposes of 1934 Act). No security may be listed on a stock exchange without having been registered with the SEC and the exchange. Id. at 131. The 1934 Act requires similar information to that which is required under the 1933 Act for disclosure. Id.; see also Hochfelder, 425 at 195 (describing intended purpose for implementation of 1934 Act). The Supreme Court stated: The 1934 Act was intended principally to protect investors against manipulation of stock prices through regulation of transactions upon securities exchanges and in over-the-counter markets, and to impose regular reporting requirements on companies whose stock is listed on national securities exchanges. Hochfelder, 425 at 195. In order to effectuate this remedial purpose, Congress provided the SEC with numerous flexible enforcement powers. Id. The Supreme Court also recognized the need to interpret the 1934 Act flexibly, rather than restrictively, in order for the SEC to properly effectuate its remedial purposes. See SEC v. Zandford, 535 813, 819 (2002) (providing proper manner to interpret 1934 Act). 554 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 Act and section 20(a) of the 1934 Act controlling person One of Congress s primary motives for providing secondary liability in the form of the controlling person provisions was to curb corporate directors from using dummies employees who commit fraud at the direction of their superiors in an effort to avoid A secondary violator of the securities statutes or rules either supports or assists the primary violator, or can be found liable simply due to his or her relationship with the Conversely, primary violators of the securities laws personally commit the act prohibited by rule or statute; however, especially in modern complex securities markets, violations rarely occur in such a simple Because Congress expressly provided for secondary liability in section 15 of the 1933 Act and section 20(a) of the 1934 Act, controlling person liability is the sole means of holding secondary security violators liable in private Section 15 of the 1933 Act provides: Every person who, by or through stock ownership, agency, or otherwise, or who, pursuant to or in connection with an agreement or understanding with one or more other persons by or through stock ownership, agency, or otherwise, controls any person liable under sections 77k or 77l of this title, shall also be liable jointly and severally with and to the same extent as such controlled person to any person to whom such controlled person is liable, unless the controlling person had no knowledge of or reasonable ground to believe in the existence of the facts by reason of which the liability of the controlled person is alleged to 22. See Lewis D. Lowenfels & Alan R. Bromberg, Controlling Person Liability Under Section 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act and Section 15 of the Securities Act, 53 BUS. LAW. 1, 1-2 (1997) (stating Congress did not overlook secondary liability when creating 1934 Act). 23. See Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., 914 1564, 1577 (9th Cir. 1990) (describing Congress s intent to deter organization of dummies from committing forbidden actions); see also Lowenfels & Bromberg, supra note 22, at 7-8 (stating congressional purpose for implementing 1934 Act section 20(a) and 1933 Act section 15); Staudt, supra note 7, at 936-37 (analyzing congressional concern of corporate directors attempts to escape liability). 24. See JAMES D. COX ET AL., SECURITIES REGULATION: CASES AND MATERIALS 755 (6th ed. 2009) (describing secondary liability). 25. See id. (illustrating securities fraud liability); see also Lowenfels & Bromberg, supra note 22, at 1 (stating Congress did not overlook secondary liability when creating 1934 Act). 26. See Cent. Bank of Denver, v. First Interstate Bank of Denver, , 511 164, 184 (1994) (stating Congress did not intend tort aiding and abetting principles to apply to securities law). In Central Bank of Denver, the Supreme Court eliminated securities private rights of action against aiders and abettors, reasoning that Congress intended controlling person liability under section 20(a) of the 1934 Act to provide for secondary liability. Id. The Court stated: The fact that Congress chose to impose some forms of secondary liability, but not others, indicates a deliberate congressional choice with which the courts should not interfere. Id.; see also Pinter v. Dahl, 486 622, 650 (1988) (stating Congress had little trouble creating secondary liability). 27. 15 77o(a) (2006 & Supp. V 2011). 2013] LET S BE FRANK 555 Further, section 20(a) of the 1934 states: Every person who, directly or indirectly, controls any person liable under any provision of this chapter or of any rule or regulation thereunder shall also be liable jointly and severally with and to the same extent as such controlled person to any person to whom such controlled person is liable . . . unless the controlling person acted in good faith and did not directly or indirectly induce the act or acts constituting the violation or cause of Each section provides controlling persons with an affirmative Nevertheless, despite varying language, courts often interpret section 15 of the 1933 Act and section 20(a) of the 1934 Act When drafting the controlling person provisions of the 1933 and 1934 Acts, Congress believed it undesirable to define the term control, opting to allow courts to define it on a case-by-case As a result, the meaning of controlling persons and the application of its affirmative defense remains Seeking guidance, courts often look to the definition of control provided by the The SEC defines control as the possession, direct or indirect, of the power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of a person, whether through the ownership of voting securities, by 28. Id. 78t(a). 29. Compare 77o(a) (providing affirmative defense based on lack of knowledge), with 78t(a) (providing good faith affirmative defense). Section 15 of the 1933 Act holds a controlling person jointly and severally liable to the same extent as the controlled person, unless the controlling person had no knowledge of or reasonable ground to believe in the existence of the facts by reason of which the liability of the controlled person is alleged to exist. 77o(a). Conversely, section 20(a) of the 1934 Act holds controlling persons jointly and severally liable to the same extent as the controlled person, unless the controlling person acted in good faith and did not directly or indirectly induce the act or acts constituting the violation or cause of action. 78t(a). 30. See, , Maher v. Durango Metals, Inc., 144 1302, 1305 (10th Cir. 1998) (articulating both sections interpreted similarly); Farley v. Henson, 11 827, 835 (8th Cir. 1993) (describing same analysis applies to both statutory provisions); In re Asia Pulp & Paper Sec. Litig., 293 F. Supp. 2d 391, 395 ( 2003) (stating both provisions interpreted in same manner). 31. See Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., 914 1564, 1580 (9th Cir. 1990) (Hall, J., dissenting) (stating Congress s conscious decision to refrain from defining control). Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn, stated the term control was intended to encapsulate actual and legally enforceable control. Id. While expressing his belief that defining control would be nearly impossible, Mr. Rayburn provided multiple examples of methods of control, including stock ownership, lease, contract, and agency. Id. (internal citations omitted). 32. See COX ET AL., supra note 24, at 773-74 (describing inconsistencies between affirmative defenses and undefined nature of control); see also Wool v. Tandem Computers, Inc., 818 1433, 1441 (9th Cir. 1987) (illustrating section 20(a) s lack of clarity). The court in Wool emphasized Congress s failure to define the scope and degree of control of the controlling person over the subordinate. Wool, 818 at 1441 33. See, , Sheinkopf v. Stone, 927 1259, 1270 (1st Cir. 1991) (quoting SEC definition of control); Thompson & Co. v. Partridge, 636 945, 957-58 (5th Cir. 1981) (citing SEC s standard for controlling person); Pharo v. Smith, 621 656, 670 (5th Cir. 1980) (consulting SEC s definition of control). 556 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 contract, or otherwise. 34 Despite the SEC s definition of control, some courts interpret what constitutes control in their own B. Varying Judicial Interpretations of Controlling Person Liability 1. Potential Influence Standard Due to section 20(a) of the 1934 Act s broader liability purview, affirmative defense, and application to both the 1934 Act s 10(b) antifraud provision and Rule 10b-5, it is litigated more frequently than section 15 of the 1933 When determining whether a defendant is a controlling person, most circuits apply the two-part analysis developed by the Eighth Circuit in Metge v. Commonly referred to as the potential influence test, courts generally focus on whether the defendant had the potential to, or actually did, control the primary In order to label the defendant as a controlling person, the potential influence test requires the plaintiff to prove that the 34. 17 (2012) (providing definition of control); see also Greco, supra note 2, at 172-73 (outlining SEC definition of control and judicial interpretations). 35. See Staudt, supra note 7, at 940 (stating courts acknowledge SEC s interpretation of control but do not rely upon it); see also Greco, supra note 2, at 173 (noting most courts ignore SEC s definition of control and find alternative reasoning). 36. See Lowenfels & Bromberg, supra note 22, at 3-6 (describing differences between controlling person provisions). The 1934 Act s section 20(a) imposes secondary liability on violators of the 1934 Act s section 10(b) and SEC Rule 10b-5, which are both highly litigated antifraud provisions. Id. at 4; see also 15 78j(b) (2006 & Supp. V 2011) (providing widely litigated 1934 Act antifraud provision 10(b)). The 1934 Act s section states: It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly . . . [t]o use or employ, in connection with the purchase or sale of any security . . . [or] any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance in contravention of such rules and regulations as the Commission may prescribe. 78j(b). SEC Rule 10b-5 provides: It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly . . . (a) [t]o employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud, (b) [t]o make any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading, or (c) [t]o engage in any act, practice, or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person, in connection with the purchase or sale of any security. 17 (2012). 37. 762 621, 630-31 (8th Cir. 1985) (requiring plaintiff prove defendant actually participated in operations and possessed power to control specific transaction). The Eighth Circuit reasoned that [t]he [controlling person liability] statute is remedial and is to be construed liberally. It has been interpreted as requiring only some indirect means of discipline or influence short of actual direction to hold a controlling person liable. Myzel v. Fields, 386 718, 738 (8th Cir. 1967) (discussing manner in which 1934 Act section 20(a) should be construed); see also Metge, 762 at 630-31 (discussing two-part analysis for controlling person liability statute); COX ET AL., supra note 24, at 777 (quoting Metge v. Baehler). 38. See, , Rochez Bros. v. Rhoades, 527 880, 890-91 (3d Cir. 1975) (explaining judicial consideration of defendants potential power to influence or control person s activities); City of Painesville v. First Montauk Fin., Corp., 178 180, 192 ( Ohio 1998); Lazzaro v. Manber, 701 F. Supp. 353, 368 ( 1988) (describing courts focus on potential power to control as opposed to actual exercise of control). 2013] LET S BE FRANK 557 defendant actually participated in . . . the operations of the corporation in general . . . [and] that the defendant possessed the power to control the specific transaction or activity upon which the primary violation is predicated, but he need not prove that this latter power was exercised. 39 The Sixth Circuit closely follows the Eighth Circuit s potential influence test established in In Sanders Confectionery Products, Inc. v. Heller Financial, Inc., the Sixth Circuit found it unnecessary to choose between the different tests established in other Nonetheless, Senior Circuit Judge Engel ultimately applied the two-part Metge analysis because it is the least rigorous of the controlling person Ultimately, the plaintiff failed to establish that the defendant met the first prong of the test because he did not demonstrate that the defendant actually exercised control over the operations of the business As evidenced in Harrison v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc.,44 the Seventh Circuit has also elected to apply the potential influence test provided by the Eighth Circuit in Unlike many of the other circuits, the Seventh expressly rejected the minority culpable participation standard a stricter standard requiring plaintiffs to show that the controlling person was a culpable participant in the underlying securities The Seventh Circuit established that the concept of control almost always means the ability to direct the 39. Metge v. Baehler, 577 F. Supp. 810, 817-18 ( Iowa 1984), aff d in part, rev d in part, 762 621 (8th Cir. 1985); see also Metge, 762 at 631 (outlining potential control test). 40. See PR Diamonds, Inc. v. Chandler, 91 F. App x 418, 441 (6th Cir. 2004) (providing two requirements for holding controlling person liable); Sanders Confectionery Prods., Inc. v. Heller Fin., Inc., 973 474, 486 (6th Cir. 1992) (applying Metge s two-prong test); see also Erin L. Massey, Control Person Liability Under Section 20(a): Striking a Balance of Interests for Plaintiffs and Defendants, 6 HOUS. BUS. & TAX 109, 118-22 (2005) (noting Sixth Circuit s adoption of Eighth Circuit s Metge standard). 41. See Sanders Confectionery Prods., Inc., 973 at 486 (noting plaintiff s complaint failed to meet either controlling person liability standard). Prior to 1992, the Sixth Circuit had not adopted a test for establishing controlling person liability. See id. The court found it unnecessary to choose between the various [controlling person liability] tests . . . because [the plaintiff] failed to plead sufficient acts of control under the least rigorous standard applied in Metge. Id. 42. See id. (describing Metge standard as least rigorous of controlling person liability standards). 43. See id. (providing court s analysis). The Sixth Circuit reasoned that because the defendant participated in such narrow capacity within the corporation, he did not meet the first prong of the potential influence standard because he did not actually participate in the operations of the business entity. See id. 44. 974 873 (7th Cir. 1992). 45. See id. at 880-81 (stating district court erred in application of narrow controlling person liability standard). 46. See id. at 881 (rejecting culpable participation standard); see also Donohoe v. Consol. Operating & Prod. Corp., 982 1130, 1138 (7th Cir. 1992) (expressly acknowledging prior rejection of culpable participation standard). In Harrison, the Seventh Circuit noted that the circuit has never approved the culpable participation test or any other test that would significantly limit the definition of a controlling person. See Harrison, 974 at 880 (rejecting lower court s application of culpable participation standard). Conversely, the Seventh Circuit has adopted a standard that greatly expands Section 20(a) s circle of liability. Id.; see also Massey, supra note 40, at 119 (describing Seventh Circuit s application of potential influence test). 558 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 actions of the people who issue or sell the securities. 47 The court reasoned that the culpable participation standard defied Congress s intent by allowing corporate officers to avoid controlling person liability by remaining ignorant of their subordinates fraudulent Initially, the Ninth Circuit adhered to a strict culpable participation The court in Buhler v. Audio Leasing required a finding that the defendant had actual influence or power over the subordinate violator and that the defendant culpably participated in the securities Over time, however, the Ninth Circuit moved toward utilizing a potential influence In Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., the court disagreed with prior Ninth Circuit decisions and held that in the context of broker-dealers, a plaintiff is not required to show culpable The court reasoned that the plaintiff s burden of showing culpable participation was beyond the purview of Congress s intent in drafting section 20(a) of the 1934 Basing its reasoning on the language of the statute, the Ninth Circuit believed that requiring the plaintiff to show the defendant s culpable participation was ill-conceived and held that the defendant should bear the burden of proving his good According to Brown v. Enstar Group, Inc.,56 the Eleventh Circuit holds a controlling person liable if he had the power to control the general affairs of the corporation at the time of the violation, he was able to directly or indirectly control or influence the policy that resulted in the primary liability, and it can be established that the controlled person violated securities The court 47. Barker v. Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, 797 490, 494 (7th Cir. 1986) (defining control for purposes of section 20(a) or section 15 claims). 48. See Donohoe, 982 at 1138 (critiquing SEC s definition of control); see also Massey, supra note 40, at 119 (providing Seventh Circuit s reasoning for utilizing potential influence test). 49. See Kersh v. Gen. Council of Assemblies of God, 804 546, 549 (9th Cir. 1986) (describing prima facie case for controlling person liability); see also Christoffel v. Hutton & Co., 588 665, 668 (9th Cir. 1978) (requiring participation by controlling person). 50. 807 833 (9th Cir. 1987). 51. See id. at 835 (outlining culpable participation test for controlling person liability). 52. See Greco, supra note 2, at 184 (describing Ninth Circuit s departure from culpable participation test); see also Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., 914 1564, 1575 (9th Cir. 1990) (holding plaintiff not required to show culpable participation). 53. See Hollinger, 914 at 1575 (holding culpable participation in broker-dealer context not required to establish 20(a) controlling person liability); see also Paracor Fin., Inc. v. Gen. Elec. Capital Corp., 96 1151, 1161 (9th Cir. 1996) (acknowledging plaintiff need not prove defendant s culpable participation in alleged violation). 54. See Hollinger, 914 at 1575 (describing court s reasoning for utilizing potential influence standard). The court reasoned that liability can only be determined through the establishment of a control relationship with the primary violator, and such liability is then subject to the defense of good faith. See id. 55. See id. (interpreting section 20(a) and placing burden of proof regarding good faith defense on defendant). The Ninth Circuit opined that the statute premises liability solely on the control relationship, subject to the [defendant s] good faith defense. Id. 56. 84 393 (11th Cir. 1996). 57. See id. at 396-97 (providing Eleventh Circuit s standard for controlling person liability). 2013] LET S BE FRANK 559 arrived at this test through the combination of two prior requirements provided in the Fifth Circuit cases of Pharo v. Smith58 and Thompson & Co. v. At first glance, the Eleventh Circuit standard appears substantially similar to the Eighth Circuit s Metge analysis; however, there is an important In Brown, the Eleventh Circuit conceded that it is yet to decide the meaning of power to control, whereas the Eighth Circuit in Metge established that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant actually exercised power over the entity primarily In Thompson & Co., the Fifth Circuit expressly rejected the culpable participation standard for controlling person Nevertheless, in Dennis v. General Imaging, Inc.,63 the Fifth Circuit appeared to require the plaintiff to prove culpable Three years later, in Abbott v. Equity Group, Inc., the court expressed its discontent with Dennis, stating that the holding failed to reflect the circuit s rejection of the culpable participation requirement articulated in Thompson & Although making reference to the inconsistency within the Fifth Circuit, the Abbott court found no reason to resolve the issue within the confines of the facts of the case at As a result, the Fifth Circuit appears to apply the potential influence test, notwithstanding the exception of the culpable participation test applied in The Tenth Circuit has also expressly rejected the use of the culpable 58. 621 656, 670 (5th Cir.), rev d in part, 625 1226 (5th Cir. 1980). 59. 636 945, 958 (5th Cir. 1981); see Brown, 84 at 396 (describing combination of factors provided in Pharo and Thompson & Co.). In Pharo, the Fifth Circuit required a finding of power to control management or the company in general. See 621 at 670. Moreover, in Thompson & Co., the court required the defendant to exemplify the requisite power to directly or indirectly control or influence corporate policy. 636 at 958; see also Greco, supra note 2, at 185 (discussing Eleventh Circuit s interpretation of power to control under controlling person liability). 60. See Brown, 84 at 396 (recognizing important distinction between Eighth Circuit and Eleventh Circuit standards). 61. See id. (discussing difference between Metge standard and Eleventh Circuit controlling person standard). 62. See Thompson & Co. v. Partridge, 636 945 (5th Cir. 1981); see also Abbott v. Equity Grp., Inc., 2 613, 620 (5th Cir. 1993) (recognizing Thompson & Co. s rejection of culpable participation requirement). 63. 918 496 (5th Cir. 1990). 64. See id. at 509 (outlining prima facie requirements for controlling person liability). The Fifth Circuit provided that the plaintiff must prove that 1) each [defendant] had actual power or influence over the controlled person and 2) each [controlling person] induced or participated in the alleged violation. Id. (citing Thompson & Co. v. Partridge, 636 945, 958 (5th Cir. 1981)). After the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the defendants can still avoid liability by establishing that their supervision was adequate and that they did not know . . . nor could they have reasonably known of the controlled persons securities violation. Id. 65. See Abbott, 2 at 620 (explaining how Dennis erred in applying culpable participation requirement). 66. See id. (describing lack of need to resolve inconsistency). 67. See Greco, supra note 2, at 182 (describing confusion within Fifth Circuit). 560 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 participation In Maher v. Durango Metals, Inc., the court affirmed that prima facie controlling person liability requires the plaintiff to establish a federal securities violation and the controlling person s control over the primary Conversely to circuits applying the minority culpable participation test, the burden will then shift to the defendant, requiring him to show lack of culpable participation or knowledge of the securities When analyzing the requisite amount of control a controlling person must possess, the Tenth Circuit has referred to the Eighth Circuit for guidance, requiring some indirect means of discipline or influence short of actual direction to hold a controlling person liable. 71 The First Circuit has also expansively noted the controversy surrounding the culpable participation In Aldridge v. Cross Corp., the defendants urged the court to adopt the stricter three-pronged controlling person liability standard applied by the Second The court did not define a concrete section 20(a) controlling person liability standard; however, it did rest on the control element, requiring that the alleged controlling person must not only have the general power to control the company, but must also actually exercise control over the company. 74 Nonetheless, despite Aldridge s decision to not establish a complete section 20(a) controlling person liability standard, the Maine district court in Neely v. Bar Harbor Bankshares75 stated that upon the plaintiff s showing of the necessary requirements, the burden shifts to the defendant to establish his or her affirmative defense of good faith, which suggests the jurisdiction could be leaning toward applying the potential 68. See First Interstate Bank of Denver, v. Pring, 969 891, 897 (10th Cir. 1992) (rejecting required showing of actual or culpable participation in primary violation), rev d, Cent. Bank of Denver, v. First Interstate Bank of Denver, , 511 164 (1994); see also Adams v. Kinder-Morgan, Inc., 340 1083, 1109 (10th Cir. 2003) (noting prior rejection within Tenth Circuit); Maher v. Durango Metals, Inc., 144 1302, 1305 (10th Cir. 1998) (recognizing prior rejection of culpable participation standard). 69. See Maher, 144 at 1305 (outlining Tenth Circuit standard for controlling person liability under section 20(a) and section 15); see also Pring, 969 at 897 (providing Tenth Circuit potential influence analysis). 70. See Maher, 144 at 1305 (describing burden shifting to defendant); see also Petroleum Exploration Corp. v. Carstan Oil Co., 765 962, 964 (10th Cir. 1985) (describing defendant s burden to show lack of knowledge). 71. Richardson v. MacArthur, 451 35, 41-42 (10th Cir. 1971) (employing guidance from Eighth Circuit); cf. Myzel v. Fields, 386 718, 738 (8th Cir. 1967) (addressing concept of control for purposes of section 20(a) application). 72. See, , In re Stone & Webster, Inc., Sec. Litig., 424 24, 26 (1st Cir. 2005) (choosing not to decide if plaintiff must establish culpable participation); Aldridge v. Cross Corp., 284 72, 85 (1st Cir. 2002) (detailing controversy surrounding culpable participation requirement); In re Lernout & Hauspie Sec. Litig., 286 33, 39 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2002) (stating First Circuit has recognized but not decided culpable participation issue). 73. See Aldridge, 284 at 85 (providing defendants argument to apply Second Circuit s culpable participation controlling person standard). 74. Id. (describing section 20(a) control element while intentionally declining to address entire standard). 75. 270 F. Supp. 2d 50, 53 (D. Me. 2003) (stating no First Circuit cases require showing of culpability beyond active participation). 2013] LET S BE FRANK 561 influence 2. Culpable Participation Standard Due to the lack of clarity surrounding the controlling person provisions, a second, less widely used test has emerged, known as culpable First established by the Second Circuit in Lanza v. Drexel & Co.,78 the culpable participation test requires a plaintiff to prove three elements in a 1934 Act section 20(a) First, there must be a primary violation of the 1934 Second, the defendant must exhibit control over the primary violator,81 and third, the controlling person must have been a culpable participant in the primary Section 20(a) of the 1934 Act also states that a controlling person may be held liable unless the controlling person acted in good faith and did not directly or indirectly induce the act or acts constituting the violation or cause of action. 83 Courts applying the potential influence test construe this language as providing an affirmative In contrast, the circuits applying the culpable participation test base doing so on Congress s intent when drafting the controlling person liability sections of the 1933 and 1934 As a result, the unless language of section 20(a) of the 1934 Act requires plaintiffs to 76. See id. (providing shift of burden to defendant to show good faith). The court noted that in Aldridge the standard for proving control is met if the defendant was an active participant in the decision-making process. Id. at 54; see Aldridge, 284 at 85 (requiring showing of active decision-making abilities); Massey, supra note 40, at 119. 77. See Massey, supra note 40, at 114-15 (describing culpable participation test); see also Boguslavsky v. Kaplan, 159 715, 720 (2d Cir. 1998) (providing plaintiff s burden to show defendant s controlling person status); SEC v. First Jersey Sec., Inc., 101 1450, 1472-73 (2d Cir. 1996) (explaining culpable participation test). 78. 479 1277 (2d Cir. 1973). 79. See id. at 1299; see also Massey, supra note 40, at 114-15 (describing culpable participation test). 80. See Boguslavsky, 159 at 720 (providing plaintiff s burden to show defendant s controlling person status); see also Massey, supra note 40, at 114-15 (describing culpable participation elements). 81. See Boguslavsky, 159 at 720 (requiring plaintiff to show defendant s controlling person status). 82. See Lanza, 479 at 1299 (requiring controlling persons culpably participate in securities violation); see also First Jersey Sec., Inc., 101 at 1472 (describing plaintiff s burden of proof). 83. 15 78t(a) (2006 & Supp. V 2011). 84. See Metge v. Baehler, 762 621, 631 (8th Cir. 1985) (stating good faith and lack of participation available as affirmative defenses); see also Thompson & Co. v. Partridge, 636 945, 958 (5th Cir. 1981) (describing affirmative defense of lack of participation and good faith). The Eighth Circuit in Metge rejected the reasoning provided by other courts with regards to the unless language provided in section 20(a) of the 1934 Act. See Metge, 762 at 631 (addressing other circuits decisions). But see Rochez Bros. v. Rhoades, 527 880, 889-90 (3d Cir. 1975) (requiring controlling person exhibit culpable behavior); Gordon v. Burr, 506 1080, 1085-86 (2d Cir. 1974) (searching for knowledge of fraudulent misrepresentations and participation). The court provided the basis for its reasoning, stating that good faith and lack of participation are affirmative defenses in a controlling person action, and requiring them as part of the plaintiff s prima facie case while allowing them as affirmative defenses, confuses the parties responsibilities and unnecessarily burdens plaintiffs . . . . Metge, 762 at 631. 85. See Lanza v. Drexel & Co., 479 1277, 1299 (2d Cir. 1973) (interpreting congressional intent warrants culpable participation); see also Carpenter v. Harris, Upham & Co., 594 388, 394 (4th Cir. 1979). 562 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 prove a mental state similar to what is necessary in a section 10(b) or SEC Rule 10b-5 cause of The Third Circuit is the strongest proponent of the culpable participation In Rochez Bros. v. Rhoades a cornerstone case for culpable participation the Third Circuit held that a controlling person liability claim could not be sustained under section 20(a) unless the plaintiff could establish that the defendant culpably participated in the primary securities This stance was reaffirmed in Sharp v. Coopers & In Sharp, Circuit Judge Aldisert held that in order to impose secondary liability on a defendant for his inaction, the plaintiff must establish that the inaction was deliberate, intentional, and in furtherance of the fraud, as opposed to the mere presence of Unlike the Third Circuit, the Second Circuit has not strictly adhered to the culpable participation Initially, the Second Circuit was firmly rooted in its application of the culpable participation test as evidenced in Lanza and Gordon v. With respect to broker-dealers, the Second Circuit failed to mention the culpable participation element established by previous rulings in Marbury Management, Inc. v. Nevertheless, this departure from the culpable participation test was short lived as Lanza was reaffirmed in SEC v. First Jersey Securities, Inc. and later in Boguslavsky v. 86. See Rochez Bros., 527 at 885 (comparing Rule 10b-5 and section 20(a) requirements); see also Massey, supra note 40, at 115 (describing courts reasoning for requiring culpable participation similar to section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5). 87. See Lowenfels & Bromberg, supra note 22, at 21-22 (describing Third Circuit s strict adherence to culpable participation standard); see also SEC v. Barclay & Co., 442 834, 841 (3d Cir. 2006) (recognizing culpable participation requirement); In re Suprema Specialties, Inc. Sec. Litig., 438 256, 284 (3d Cir. 2006) (describing prior holdings requiring culpable participation to establish liability under section 20(a)); Rochez Bros., 527 at 885 (stating Congress s intent for culpable participation). 88. See Rochez Bros., 527 at 890 (requiring culpable participation as element of controlling person liability). 89. 649 175, 185 (3d Cir. 1981) (holding culpable participation element necessary to impose liability under section 20(a)). 90. See id. 91. Compare SEC v. First Jersey Sec., Inc., 101 1450, 1472-73 (2d Cir. 1996) (reaffirming Second Circuit s application of culpable participation test), and Lanza v. Drexel & Co., 479 1277, 1299 (2d Cir. 1973) (establishing Second Circuit s adherence to culpable participation test), with Marbury Mgmt., Inc. v. Kohn, 629 705, 716 (2d Cir. 1980) (shifting burden of proving good faith to defendant). 92. 506 1080, 1085 (2d Cir. 1974) (affirming Second Circuit s reasoning in Lanza); see also Lowenfels & Bromberg, supra note 22, at 24 (describing confusion within Second Circuit s application of culpable participation test). 93. Marbury Mgmt., Inc., 629 at 716 (shifting burden of good faith to defendant). In Marbury Management, the Second Circuit briefly departed from the required showing of culpable participation, holding that the burden of proving good faith is shifted to the brokerage house and requires it to show at least that it has not been negligent in supervision. Id. (internal citations omitted). 94. See Boguslavsky v. Kaplan, 159 715, 720 (2d Cir. 1998) (reaffirming SEC v. First Jersey Securities, Inc.); First Jersey Sec., Inc., 101 at 1472 (reaffirming use of culpable participation test); see also Kalin v. Xanboo, Inc., 526 F. Supp. 2d 392, 406 ( 2007) (requiring specific culpable participation pleading with specificity within complaint). But see Laperriere v. Vesta Ins. Grp., Inc., 526 715, 724 2013] LET S BE FRANK 563 Similar to the Second Circuit, the Fourth Circuit applied the culpable participation test in a confusing In Carpenter v. Harris, Upham & Co., the Fourth Circuit cited Lanza s interpretation of Congress s intent of requiring a showing of culpable participation; however, as the vast majority of courts would argue, the test can also be interpreted as not requiring the defendant to be a culpable Nonetheless, in In re Mutual Funds Investment Litigation,97 the court provided clarity, backing away from the culpable participation test and shifting the burden from the plaintiff to the defendant to show his or her lack of culpable participation in the underlying securities C. Dodd-Frank s Influence on Controlling Person Liability In response to what has been described as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in July of Prior to the implementation of Dodd-Frank, the circuit courts were divided on whether the SEC had authority to bring a section 20(a) claim under the 1934 This (11th Cir. 2008) (acknowledging courts applying culpable participation fail to require knowing participation); In re Parmalat Sec. Litig., 375 F. Supp. 2d 278, 307-09 ( 2005) (noting pleading culpable participation under section 20(a) unnecessary); In re WorldCom, Inc. Sec. Litig., 294 F. Supp. 2d 392, 415 ( 2003) (realizing no requirement plaintiffs plead culpable state of mind to establish culpable participation); Sommer, Jr., Commissioner, SEC, Directors and the Federal Securities Laws (Feb. 21, 1974), available at (agreeing with Lanza s dissent and criticizing required showing of willful conduct). 95. Compare Maher v. Durango Metals, Inc., 144 1302, 1305 (10th Cir. 1998) (describing shift of burden to defendant to show lack of culpable participation), with Carpenter v. Harris, Upham & Co., 594 388, 394 (4th Cir. 1979) (relying on congressional intent in applying strict culpable participation standard). 96. See Carpenter, 594 at 394 (providing Lanza s interpretation of congressional intent for culpable participation element); Lowenfels & Bromberg, supra note 22, at 25 (describing confusion surrounding Fourth Circuit s opinion in Carpenter). 97. 566 111 (4th Cir. 2009), rev d sub nom. Janus Capital Grp., Inc. v. First Derivative Traders, 131 S. Ct. 2296 (2011). See generally Andrew Power, Note, The Thirteenth Stroke: An Approach to Ultimate Authority After Janus, 45 SUFFOLK U. L. REV. 1297 (2012). 98. See In re Mut. Funds Inv. Litig., 566 at 129-30 (describing test applied in Tenth Circuit s Maher case). The Fourth Circuit departed from the culpable participation test, placing the burden on the defendant to show a lack of culpable participation, similar to the majority approach, the potential influence standard. Id. 99. See Angela Maddaloni & Jos -Luis Peydr , Bank Risk-Taking, Securitization, Supervision and Low Interest Rates: Evidence from the Euro Area and the Lending Standards 7 (European Cent. Bank, Working Paper No. 1248, 2010), available at ; see also Arthur E. Wilmarth, Jr., The Dodd-Frank Act: A Flawed and Inadequate Response to the Too-Big-To-Fail Problem, 89 OR. L. REV. 951, 953-54 (2011) (describing implementation of Dodd-Frank). 100. See SEC v. Daifotis, No. C 11-00137 WHA, 2011 WL 4714250, at *5 ( Cal. Oct. 7, 2011) (providing Dodd-Frank analysis, clarifying SEC s authority to bring section 20(a) enforcement actions). Congress amended the 1934 Act s section 3(a)(9) in 1975 to define the term person as a natural person, company, government, or political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of a government. 15 78c(a)(9) (2006 & Supp. V 2011); see also Daifotis, 2011 WL 4717250, at *5 (quoting definition of person ). Courts have applied the meaning of person with varying results. Compare SEC v. Barclay & Co., 442 834, 842 (3d Cir. 2006) (labeling SEC as person under 1934 Act and granting authority to bring section 564 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 division resulted from different interpretations of section 20(a) s joint and several liability requirement, which vaguely states that a controlling person is liable to any person to whom such controlled person is liable. 101 In SEC v. Coffey, the Sixth Circuit reasoned that when establishing section 20(a) of the 1934 Act, Congress intended to solely provide controlling person liability to private persons, therefore disallowing the SEC from utilizing section 20(a) controlling person liability in injunctive enforcement Other courts, such as the Second and Third Circuits, have expressly authorized the SEC s power to maintain enforcement actions for controlling person liability under section 20(a) of the 1934 Section 929P(c) of Dodd-Frank serves to clarify this This provision effectively amends section 20(a) of the 1934 Act, affirming the SEC s authority to maintain enforcement actions under the theory of controlling person While securities litigation concerning controlling person liability has been sparse since the passage of Dodd-Frank, the Second Circuit noted the confusion regarding its requirement for culpable participation in In re Lehman Bros. Mortgage-Backed Securities Nonetheless, due to the plaintiff s failure to adequately plead the element of control, the court decided not to address the matter in the present In re Lehman Bros. evidences the current state of disarray, and for the time being, the SEC will be obligated to prove controlling person liability depending on the 20(a) claim), and SEC v. First Jersey Sec., Inc., 101 1450, 1472 (2d Cir. 1996) (upholding SEC s authority to pursue enforcement action under section 20(a)), with SEC v. Coffey, 493 1304, 1318 (6th Cir. 1974) (holding SEC may not rely upon 1934 Act section 20(a) in injunctive enforcement actions), and SEC v. Stringer, No. Civ. 02-1341-ST, 2003 WL 23538011, at *4 (D. Or. Sept. 3, 2003) (providing section 20(a) never intended for SEC enforcement actions). 101. 78t(a) (establishing controlling person liability); see also Coffey, 493 at 1318 (providing statutory analysis of SEC s status as person under section 20(a)). 102. See Coffey, 493 at 1318 (providing statutory interpretation of SEC s authority to rely upon section 20(a)). But see Daifotis, 2011 WL 4714250, at *5 (analyzing discrepancies surrounding SEC s power to pursue enforcement actions under section 20(a)). 103. See First Jersey Sec., Inc., 101 at 1472 (upholding SEC s authority to pursue enforcement action under section 20(a)); see also Barclay & Co., 442 at 842 (labeling SEC as person under 1934 Act and granting authority to bring section 20(a) claim). 104. See Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376, 1865 (2010) (affirming SEC s power to bring actions in federal court regarding controlling person liability); see also Hiler & Rose, supra note 1, at 3-4 (describing section 929P(c) s effect on SEC s power to bring actions under controlling person liability theory). 105. See Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 929P(c) (providing amendment to section 20(a) of 1934 Act). Section 929P(c) states: Section 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 78t(a)) is amended by inserting after controlled person is liable the following: (including to the Commission in any action brought under paragraph (1) or (3) of section 21(d)). Id. 106. 650 167, 186 (2d Cir. 2011) (recognizing divided application of culpable participation element). 107. See id. (deciding not to address whether culpable participation required for section 15 liability). 108. See id. (noting controversy surrounding culpable participation requirement); see also Amanda Bronstad, SEC Trots Out a New Weapon: Control Person Liability, (Aug. 20, 2009), (describing different standards that SEC 2013] LET S BE FRANK 565 III. ANALYSIS A. Pertinent Issues Surrounding the Culpable Participation and Potential Influence Standards The divide amongst the circuit courts regarding controlling person liability is unacceptable, and in many cases, Courts applying the minority culpable participation standard have expressly noted that it is pointless for plaintiffs to state culpable participation in order to successfully plead a section 20(a) Regardless of this observation, numerous courts remain firm in believing that culpable participation must be pled with specificity within the plaintiff s The differing views among courts, compounded with the implementation of Dodd-Frank, have made it all the more apparent why a single controlling person liability standard must be Considering that controlling person liability under sections 15 of the 1933 Act and 20(a) of the 1934 Act remains one of the primary means of providing secondary liability in private rights of securities actions, requiring plaintiffs to plead culpable participation is unduly The defendant often has sole possession of evidence regarding culpable participation because plaintiffs have limited access to corporate information prior to As a result, in jurisdictions requiring the pleading of culpable participation, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for plaintiffs to succeed in summary judgment Therefore, one can only assume that this deficiency has played a major factor in many jurisdictions decision to depart from culpable must establish depending on jurisdiction). 109. See Laperriere v. Vesta Ins. Grp., Inc., 526 715, 724 (11th Cir. 2008) (providing courts applying culpable participation often do not require showing participation); see also In re WorldCom, Inc. Sec. Litig., 294 F. Supp. 2d 392, 415 ( 2003) (stating no requirement that plaintiffs plead culpable state of mind to establish culpable participation). 110. See supra note 109 (describing Southern District of New York and Eleventh Circuit s observations regarding pleading culpable participation). 111. See SEC v. First Jersey Sec., Inc., 101 1450, 1472-73 (2d Cir. 1996) (requiring culpable participation); see also Sharp v. Coopers & Lybrand, 649 175, 185 (3d Cir. 1981) (requiring plaintiff to plead culpable participation); Kalin v. Xanboo, Inc., 526 F. Supp. 2d 392, 406 ( 2007) (reaffirming need for culpable participation within Second Circuit). 112. See SEC v. Zandford, 535 813, 813 (2002) (advocating flexible interpretation of securities laws); see also Massey, supra note 40, at 123 (describing plaintiff s extremely burdensome pleading requirements of culpable participation). 113. See supra note 26 (describing Central Bank of Denver s elimination of aiding and abetting liability in private actions); see also Massey, supra note 40, at 123 (describing overly burdensome pleadings of culpable participation). 114. See Massey, supra note 40, at 123 (addressing difficulties faced by plaintiffs regarding pleading culpable participation). 115. See Greco, supra note 2, at 187 (discussing inadequacies of culpable participation standard). 116. See supra Part (discussing potential influence standard and courts departure from culpable participation). 566 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 By recognizing the unless language provided in controlling person liability sections of the 1933 and 1934 Acts as an affirmative defense, the majority potential influence standard places the burden on the defendant, requiring a showing that he did not induce the primary violation, or that he acted in good Typically, defendants can establish the affirmative defense, otherwise known as the good faith affirmative defense, by proving that reasonable procedures were taken to prevent the primary This aspect of the potential control standard seems to be more in line with Congress s intent for the controlling person In fact, this distinction between the culpable participation and potential influence standards was the driving force behind the Ninth Circuit s decision to abandon its application of culpable Despite being substantially more accommodating for plaintiffs, the potential influence standard can often lead to inconsistent This issue stems from Congress s conscious decision to leave the term control undefined, allowing courts to determine the extent of corporate directors and officers control on the merits of the cases before The provision of this flexible, fact-specific standard has also been criticized for potentially exposing innocent supervisory personnel to joint and several liability for the securities violations of their Regardless, the potential influence test offers plaintiffs a superior alternative in comparison to culpable participation s extreme and unwarranted pleading 117. See 15 77o (2006 & Supp. V 2011) (providing controlling person liability pursuant to section 15 of 1933 Act); id. 78t (providing controlling person liability under section 20(a) of 1934 Act); see also supra notes 46-47 and accompanying text (providing circuit courts reasoning for vacating culpable participation). 118. See Lowenfels & Bromberg, supra note 22, at 27 (defining good faith defense). 119. See supra notes 37-39 and accompanying text (explaining statutory language of controlling person liability statutes). 120. See Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., 914 1564, 1575 (9th Cir. 1990) (analyzing statutory language and placing burden on defendant). Joining several other courts, the Ninth Circuit reasoned that [a]ccording to the statutory language, once the plaintiff establishes that the defendant is a controlling person, then the defendant bears the burden of proof to show his good faith. Id. 121. See Massey, supra note 40, at 124 (discussing difficulty of inconsistent rulings produced by potential influence standards); Greco, supra note 2, at 190 (discussing inconsistent rulings as disadvantage of potential control). 122. See supra note 31 and accompanying text (analyzing Congress s decision to leave control undefined); see also Massey, supra note 40, at 124 (discussing inconsistent rulings produced by potential influence standard); Greco, supra note 2, at 190-91 (criticizing potential control standard). 123. See Greco, supra note 2, at 190 (discussing potential control standard s primary criticism); see also Metge v. Baehler, 762 621, 630 (8th Cir. 1985) (discussing lack of congressional guidance in construing controlling person liability). Congress believed a strict definition of control would not be desirable because [i]t would be difficult if not impossible to enumerate or to anticipate the many ways in which actual control may be exerted. Rep. No. 73-1383, at 26 (1934). 124. See Greco, supra note 2, at 187 (discussing inadequacies of culpable participation standard); see also Massey, supra note 40, at 123 (addressing difficulties faced by plaintiffs regarding pleading culpable participation). 2013] LET S BE FRANK 567 B. Dodd-Frank s Effect on Prior and Future Decisions With respect of the SEC s authority to bring enforcement actions under section 20(a) of the 1934 Act, Dodd-Frank has not created new enforcement powers, but has simply clarified a power that has existed since the 1934 Act s The courts refusing to recognize this authority interpreted section 20(a) s statutory language too When drafting the 1933 and 1934 Acts, Congress recognized that efficient [and effective] regulation of securities trading could not be accomplished under a rigid statutory program. 127 Therefore, the Commission was created with flexible enforcement Dodd-Frank s affirmation of the SEC s authority to bring enforcement actions under the theory of the 1934 Act section 20(a) controlling person liability extends its ability to flexibly deter and combat securities With section 929P(c) of Dodd-Frank affirming the SEC s power to utilize controlling person liability, the SEC will surely look to hold influential members of corporations secondarily liable for securities violations more SEC Commissioner A. A. Sommer, Jr. openly expressed his disapproval of culpable participation and disagreed with the Second Circuit s contention in Lanza that a controlling person must act with intentional 125. See supra note 100 and accompanying text (describing split views on SEC s authority to bring enforcement actions under section 20(a)). Before passage of Dodd-Frank, the vast majority of courts believed the SEC was considered a person under the 1934 Act, and therefore possessed the power to bring enforcement actions under section 20(a). See SEC v. Daifotis, No. C 11-00137 WHA, 2011 WL 4714250, at *5 ( Cal. Oct. 7, 2011) (outlining varying views regarding SEC s authority to bring section 20(a) controlling person enforcement actions). Nonetheless, until the implementation of Dodd-Frank, some courts believed that the SEC did not qualify as a person under section 20(a). See SEC v. Stringer, No. Civ. 02-1341-ST, 2003 WL 23538011, at *6 (D. Or. Sept. 3, 2003). In Stringer, the District Court of Oregon believed the SEC could not constitute a person under section 20(a) because the SEC is not a person to whom such controlled person is [joint and severally] liable. Id. 126. See SEC v. Coffey, 493 1304, 1318 (6th Cir. 1974) (stating section 20(a) only provides private persons course of action against secondary violators); see also Stringer, 2003 WL 23538011, at *6 (interpreting statutory text). Although Dodd-Frank is in direct opposition of the view taken by the Stringer court, the court does make a unique point. See Stringer, 2003 WL 23538011, at *6. While prior courts have focused on whether the SEC constitutes a person, the Stringer court phrases the issue differently. See supra note 100 and accompanying text (providing numerous decisions analyzing whether SEC constitutes a person under section 20(a)). Instead of analyzing whether the SEC complies with the statutory definition of the word person, the court believed the true issue is whether the SEC constitutes a person to whom such controlled person is liable. See Stringer, 2003 WL 23538011, at *6 (analyzing issue slightly differently than prior case law). The court reasoned that the SEC, being a government agency, is not an injured party, and although a controlling person can be held liable to a private plaintiff, he cannot be held liable to the SEC. See id. 127. See Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 185, 195 (1976) (describing statutory history of 1933 and 1934 Acts). 128. See id. (describing Congress s intent in creating SEC). 129. See id. (describing Congress s provision of flexible enforcement powers to SEC); see also SEC v. Zandford, 535 813, 813 (2002) (explaining courts should construe 1934 Act flexibly). 130. See Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-203, 929P(c), 124 Stat. 1376, 1865 (2010) (affirming SEC s power to bring enforcement actions under controlling person liability theory). 568 SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [Vol. XLVI:551 Courts applying culpable participation for example the Third Circuit require plaintiffs to show that the controlling person intentionally participated in the primary In order to establish intentional participation, the plaintiff must show that the controlling person acted with the intent to facilitate the primary securities The SEC s definition of control alludes to a standard that would not require culpable Pursuant to the definition provided by the SEC, a corporate officer would have controlled an underlying securities violation if he or she exhibited the possession, direct or indirect, of the power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of a person, whether through the ownership of voting securities, by contract, or otherwise. 135 This expansive definition of control is counterintuitive to the argument in favor of applying the culpable participation standard that requires a degree of intentional participation, as it provides for direct or indirect power to direct the mere management and policies of securities Therefore, judging from the SEC Commissioner s express criticism of intentional participation and the SEC s broad definition of control, it appears as if the SEC would prefer to apply the less-restrictive potential influence standard as opposed to culpable Although the affirmative defense of controlling person liability is shrouded in much confusion, the Supreme Court has not yet directly addressed the Nevertheless, the Court stated in SEC v. Zandford: [T]he statute 131. See Sommer, supra note 94 (discussing Lanza s holding); see also Staudt, supra note 7, at 940 (stating in SEC s view that intentional participation not required to hold controlling persons liable). 132. See Staudt, supra note 7, at 942 (describing required showing of intentional participation to succeed in proving culpable participation). 133. See Rochez Bros. v. Rhoades, 527 880, 890 (3d Cir. 1975) (providing intentional participation analysis). In defining intentional participation, the Third Circuit in Rochez Bros. stated that liability may be established if the controlling person was directly or indirectly involved in the primary violation. See id. Intentional participation, and therefore culpable participation, can be established on inaction only if it was intentional and in furtherance of the primary violation, or in an attempt to prevent authorities from discovering it. See id. Therefore, under the culpable participation standard, controlling persons can be held jointly and severally liable without having intentionally committed a securities violation. See Laperriere v. Vesta Ins. Grp., Inc., 526 715, 725 (11th Cir. 2008) (recognizing courts agree controlling persons do not need to commit intentional violations). In support of this proposition the Fifth Circuit stated: [W]hat would be the purpose of the controlling person provision if intent were required the provision would hardly make anyone liable who would not be so otherwise. Thompson & Co. v. Partridge, 636 945, 960 (5th Cir. 1981); see also Staudt, supra note 7, at 943 (providing intentional participation definition). 134. See 17 (2012) (defining control). 135. Id. 136. See id. The establishment of control through a showing of direct or indirect power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of the controlled person through merely possessing ownership of voting securities implies that intentional conduct by the controlling person is not required. Cf. id. 137. See supra note 94 (describing SEC s historical criticism of culpable participation s requirement of intentional participation). 138. See Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., 914 1564, 1581 (9th Cir. 1990) (discussing Supreme Court s failure to address affirmative defense issue surrounding controlling person liability). 2013] LET S BE FRANK 569 should be construed not technically and restrictively, but flexibly to effectuate [securities legislation s] remedial purposes. 139 Circuits that interpret controlling person legislation as requiring culpable participation seem to have disregarded the intended flexible nature of the securities laws as enumerated by Congress and the Supreme IV. CONCLUSION For the better part of the previous century, controlling person liability conformity has eluded the judicial system. The existence of culpable participation especially within the Second Circuit, the epicenter of American finance and capitalism greatly diminishes a plaintiff s ability to merely plead controlling person liability. The recent implementation of Dodd-Frank and the SEC s affirmed power to bring controlling person enforcement actions, destines the issue of controlling person liability for Supreme Court review. Whether the Supreme Court decides to utilize the potential control test or construct a new test to effectuate the purposes of holding controlling persons liable, the selected standard will surely be less restrictive than culpable participation, which will allow private litigants and the SEC to pursue controlling person actions with greater ease. Michael A. Bednarz 139. SEC v. Zandford, 535 813, 819 (2002) (describing how to construe securities legislation). 140. See id. (recommending flexible effectuation of securities laws).

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