The original complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Nach, et al. v. Huber, et al., case number 07-CV-04071, alleges violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Moody's Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides credit ratings, research, and analysis covering fixed-income securities, other debt instruments and the entities that issue such instruments in the global capital markets. Among other things, the Company assigns ratings to mortgage bonds comprising risky "subprime" home loans , including bonds packaged as "collateralized debt obligations" and other securities backed by subprime assets. Investors rely on these ratings to assess the value and risk of these investments. While the nation's housing market was booming, Moody's reaped millions of dollars in fees for assigning ratings to subprime-mortgage-backed securities.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, Defendant misrepresented or failed to disclose that the Company assigned excessively high ratings to bonds backed by risky subprime mortgages including bonds packaged as collateralized debt obligations - which was materially misleading to investors concerning the quality and relative risk of these investments. Moreover, even as a downturn in the housing market caused rising delinquencies of the subprime mortgages underlying such bonds, Moody's maintained its excessively high ratings, rather than downgrade the bonds to reflect the true risk of owning subprime-mortgage-backed debt instruments.
Then, on July 11, 2007, Moody's shocked investors when it announced that the Company was downgrading 399 mortgage-backed securities issued in 2006 and reviewing an additional thirty-two for downgrade, affecting approximately $5.2 billion of bonds. The Company also disclosed that it had downgraded 52 bonds issued in 2005.
On September 26, 2007, a similar purported class action complaint, 07-CV-08375, was also filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. On December 12, 2007, Northern District of Illinois Judge Ruben Castillo granted the motion to appoint Teamsters Local 282 Group and Lewis Wetstein, M.D., as co-lead plaintiffs and granted the selection of lead and liaison counsels. The law firms Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, Kirby McInerney, LLP and Schiffrin Barroway Topaz & Kessler, LLP were approved as co-lead counsel, and the law firm of Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP was approved as local counsel. On February 7, 2008, the Nach action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Further, on May 28, 2008, the Nach action was consolidated into Lead Case, 07-CV-8375. On June 27, 2008, a Consolidated Amended Complaint was filed. On September 26, 2008, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the Consolidated Amended Complaint.
According to an article dated February 23, 2009, the judge rejected attempts by the rating agency to dismiss the case, which accuses the company and CEO Raymond McDaniel of securities fraud. But the judge did narrow the lawsuit, and threw out claims against former Moody's Investors Service Chief Operating Officer Brian Clarkson and Michael Kanef, the company's chief regulatory and compliance officer. The judge, Shirley Wohl Kram of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said the plaintiffs -- a group of Moody's shareholders led by the Teamsters Local 282 Pension Trust Fund and two individuals -- could try to revive the dismissed claims by refiling them in a different form.
On March 5, 2009, the defendants filed a motion for reconsideration from the February 23, 2009 Opinion and Order # 97128 granting in part and denying in part the defendants’ motion to dismiss the Consolidated Amended Complaint. On April 29, 2009, the Court denied the motion for reconsideration. On May 5, 2009, a notice was filed appointing a special master for the purpose of overseeing discovery and settlement negotiations in this litigation. On May 27, 2009, Judge Shirley Wohl Kram appointed Paul D. Wachter as special master for the purpose of overseeing discovery and settlement negotiations in this litigation. On January 22, 2010, the plaintiffs filed a motion to certify the class. The motion was denied on March 31, 2011.