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MUTH v. DECHERT

March 14, 1975

MARY MUTH, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
Dechert, Price & Rhoads, et al., Defendant-Third-Party Plaintiffs v. George I. Bloom, et al., Third-Party Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVIS

 I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

 Plaintiffs are shareholders who have brought a class action against Dechert, Price & Rhoads ("Dechert"), Main, LaFrentz & Co. ("Main, LaFrentz") and Frederick Taylor ("Taylor") arising out of the sale of the stock of United Municipal Incinerator Corporation ("UMIC"), subsequently Scienscope, during the period February 11, 1969 to December 2, 1970. The defendants are a law firm (Dechert), an accounting firm (Main, LaFrentz), and an individual attorney (Taylor), all of whom are alleged to be liable for violation of § 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("1934 Act"), 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b) and Rule 10(b)-5 promulgated thereunder.

 The defendants have filed answers denying liability and served Third-Party Complaints on a number of individuals and corporations named as defendants in Oberholtzer v. Scranton, 59 F.R.D. 572 (1973). Third-Party Complaints have been served by Dechert and Main, LaFrentz on Hess, Grant & Frazier, William Hess, Helen Harden and purportedly served on Francis Laughlin; purportedly served by Main, LaFrentz on George Remington; and served by Taylor on Hess, Grant & Frazier, William Hess and James Grant.

 All of the above Third-Party Defendants ("Hess, Grant Defendants") have moved to dismiss the Third-Party Complaints for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and on the additional basis that these Third-Party claims are precluded by a prior settlement in the Oberholtzer case. Laughlin and Remington have also moved to set aside service of process on them and to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction over the person. In view of our disposition of the first theory that the Third Party Complaints failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, we need not resolve the other two issues.

 Each of the Third-Party Complaints states that paragraph 5 of the Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges that each of the Defendants (Third-Party Plaintiffs) is sued as "a co-conspirator with and as an aider and abettor of the other defendants named herein and others named as defendants in Oberholtzer, et al. v. Scranton, et al. . . ."

 The Third-Party Complaint of Dechert alleges that "if plaintiffs should prove some or all of the allegations contained in paragraph 5 of their Complaint and such acts are found to be illegal and to give rise to liability to the plaintiffs and/or members of the class . . ." the Third-Party Defendants are liable to Dechert for indemnity or contribution. The Third-Party Complaint of Main, LaFrentz alleges the same in substance.

 The Third-Party Complaint of Taylor also seeks contribution or indemnity alleging that: "During the period that he was performing legal services for United Municipal Incinerator Corporation, the Third-Party Defendants did individually, severally, jointly and by conspiracy among themselves, mislead and misinform the Third-Party Plaintiff, Frederick Taylor, as to their intentions, motives and acts, and did by themselves and acting through the officers of the United Municipal Incinerator Corporation prevent the Third-Party Plaintiff Frederick Taylor from acting effectively as an attorney for United Municipal Incinerator Corporation."

 II. FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

 In the Third- Party Complaints of both Dechert and Main, LaFrentz, these bare statements of aiding and abetting are the only support for their conclusory allegations that the Hess, Grant Defendants are liable for indemnity or contribution. Apart from the failure to incorporate the Oberholtzer Complaint by reference, these bare statements show no nexus or connection between the alleged wrongdoing and these Third- Party Defendants. Conclusory allegations of aiding and abetting are insufficient in a Securities case. Landy v. F.D.I.C., 486 F.2d 139, 162-164 (3d Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 416 U.S. 960, 94 S. Ct. 1979, 40 L. Ed. 2d 312 (1974). This proposition is no more than a specific instance of the general principle, set forth in Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, that the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake must be pleaded with particularity. The failure of these Third Party Plaintiffs to allege violations of the Securities Laws with particularity renders their complaints insufficient. Segal v. Gordon, 467 F.2d 602 (2d Cir. 1972); Reiver v. Photo Motion Corp., 325 F. Supp. 214 (E.D. Pa. 1971), per Becker, J.; Washburn v. Madison Square Garden Corp., 340 F. Supp. 504, 507 (S.D.N.Y. 1972).

 It should be noted that under our system of notice pleading, a complaint need not allege all the facts to show liability, but it must allege all the theories to show liability.

 It must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. B & B Investment Club, et al. v. Kleinert's, Inc., et al., 381 F. Supp. 569 (E.D. Pa. 1974), per Cahn, J.

 In the Third- Party Complaint of Taylor, as stated, there is the additional allegation in ...


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