United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
CARMELO ORTIZ, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, et al., Defendants. KELLY PAYNE, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
Bissoon United States District Judge.
3, 2017, Plaintiff Carmelo Ortiz, on behalf of herself and
all others similarly situated, filed a Complaint against
United States Steel Corporation, Mario Longhi and David B.
Burritt, alleging violations of the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934. (Doc. 1 at Civil Action 17-579). Then on May 17,
2017, Plaintiff Kelley Payne, on behalf of herself and all
others similarly situated, filed a Complaint against United
States Steel Corporation, Mario Longhi Filho and David B.
Burritt, also alleging violations of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934. (Doc. 1 at Civil Action 17-660). Both actions
are brought on behalf of purchasers of the common stock of
United States Steel Corporation (“U.S. Steel”)
between November 1, 2016 and April 25, 2017.
to stipulations filed by the parties, the Court entered a
separate Order at each civil action number extending
Defendants' answer date pending the Court's
appointment of a lead plaintiff pursuant to the Private
Securities Litigation Reform Act, 15 U.S.C. §
78u-4(a)(3) (the “PSLRA”). (Doc. 10 at 17-579 and
Doc. 17 at 15-660). On May 4, 2017, the first notice that a
class action had been initiated against Defendants U.S.
Steel, Mario Longhi and David B. Burritt (collectively,
“Defendants”) was published on PRNewswire,
advising members of the proposed class of their right to move
the Court to serve as lead plaintiff no later than 60 days
after the issuance of the PRNewswire notice. See
(Doc. 19 at ¶ 5; Doc. 19-2).
to the publication of the lawsuits, the Court received seven
motions across both dockets requesting various forms of
relief related to the appointment of a lead plaintiff.
See (Docs. 12, 14, 17, 21 and 24 at 17-579 and Docs.
13 and 16 at 17-660). All but one Motion asks that the two
separate civil actions be consolidated into one.
C.f. Mot. by Teamsters Local 237 (Doc. 21).
Court will first address the Motions for Consolidation before
proceeding to the appointment of a lead plaintiff and lead
counsel. See 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(ii) (“If
more than one action on behalf of a class asserting
substantially the same claim or claims arising under this
chapter has been filed, and any party has sought to
consolidate those actions for pretrial purposes or for trial,
the court shall not make the [lead plaintiff determination]
until after the decision on the motion to consolidate is
rendered.”) As many of the Motions to Consolidate point
out, securities class actions are well-suited to
consolidation pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a).
Consolidating shareholder class actions streamlines and
simplifies pre-trial and discovery proceedings, motions
practice, refinement of class action issues, consolidates
clerical and administrative duties, preserves judicial
resources, and generally reduces the confusion and delay that
result from prosecuting related actions separately before two
or more judges. Sterling, 2007 WL 4570729, at *2
(noting as well that consolidation would “facilitate
the administration of justice and promote judicial economy
without any foreseeable prejudice.”).
(Doc. 18 at 8-9).
Court finds that these two civil actions involve sufficiently
common questions of law and fact such that consolidation is
appropriate. Both actions present substantially similar
factual and legal issues, stem from the same alleged scheme
by Defendants, name the same or similar defendants and allege
violations of federal securities law. Moreover, the proposed
class for each action is identical - individuals who
purchased common stock of U.S. Steel between November 1, 2016
and April 25, 2017. Accordingly, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §
78u-4(a)(3)(B)(ii) and Rule 42(a) the Court hereby
CONSOLIDATES the above-captioned cases (17-559 and 17-660),
and any other subsequently filed related actions, under Civil
Action Number 17-559 (“the Lead Case”). Until
further notice, all filings in these consolidated cases shall
be docketed under the Lead Case, and the parties may
abbreviate their captions to read, “In re U.S.
Steel Consolidated Cases, Civil Action No. 17-559,
” or a reasonable equivalent.
Court now turns to the question of who should serve as lead
plaintiff. The PSLRA provides as straightforward, sequential
procedure for selecting a lead plaintiff for “each
private action arising under [the Exchange Act] that is
brought as a plaintiff class action pursuant to the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure.” 15 U.S.C. §
78u-4(a)(1); see also 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B). First,
the PSLRA specifies that:
Not later than 20 days after the date on which the complaint
is filed, the plaintiff or plaintiffs shall cause to be
published, in a widely circulated national business-oriented
publication or wire service, a notice advising members of the
purported plaintiff class - (I) of the pendency of the
action, the claims asserted therein, and the purported class
period; and (II) that, not later than 60 days after the date
on which notice is published, any member of the purported may
move the court to serve as lead plaintiff of the purported
15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(A)(i). Next, courts are to
consider all motions made by class members and appoint the
movant that the court determines to be most capable of
adequately representing the interests of the class as lead
plaintiff. 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(i).
adjudicating a lead plaintiff motion, a court adopts the
presumption that the “most adequate plaintiff” is
the person or group of persons who: (i) filed a complaint or
made a motion to serve as lead plaintiff; (ii) “has the
largest financial interest in the relief sought by the
class”; and (iii) who “otherwise satisfies the
requirements of Rule 23.” 15 U.S.C. §
78u-4(a)(3)(B)(iii)(I). This presumption may be rebutted by
“proof” that the presumptively most adequate
plaintiff “will not fairly and adequately protect the
interests of the class.” 15 U.S.C. §
on a thorough review of the filings in both civil actions,
the Court finds that Christakis Vrakas satisfies the
requirements of the “most adequate plaintiff.”
Mr. Vrakas has met the requirement of 15 U.S.C. §
78u-4(a)(3)(B)(ii)(I)(aa) by timely filing motions at each
civil action on July 3, 2017. See (Doc. 17 at 17-579
and Doc. 13 at 17-660). Moreover, there is consensus among
all movants that Mr. Vrakas has the largest financial
interest in the relief sought by the class. (Docs. 38, 39,
40, 41, 42 at 17-579 and Doc. 21 at 17-660); see
also (Doc. 19-1 at 3-4) (Loss Chart detailing Mr.
Vrakas's losses in U.S. Steel totaling $2, 989, 482.59).
Mr. Vrakas satisfies the requirements of Rule 23 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, in that he satisfies the
typicality and adequacy requirements, thereby justifying his
appointment as lead plaintiff. In re Cedant Corp.
Litig., 264 F.3d 201, 264 (3d. Cir. 2011) (“[T]he
Court's initial inquiry should be confined to determining
whether such ...