Professor Brendan S. Maher, director of the Insurance Law Center at UConn School of Law, has won a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court allowing investors to pursue financial institutions for securities violations under state laws.
Maher, acting as counsel of record, prevailed on behalf of a group of investors in the closely watched jurisdictional dispute Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Manning. The Supreme Court, in an 8-0 opinion issued May 16, 2016, found that state courts have the power to adjudicate securities claims under their own laws, which allows the investors’ lawsuit to proceed in New Jersey courts.
"This decision vindicates the right of states and their courts to hold financial bad actors accountable under their own laws. Federalism lives, and rightly so," Maher said.
The investors contend that Merrill Lynch and three other brokerage firms violated New Jersey law through a “naked short sale” of stock that caused the value of their shares to drop. The Supreme Court held that state courts are free to hear claims arising from state laws that protect their citizens from securities violations.
The Supreme Court heard the case on Dec. 1, 2015, with Peter Stris, Maher’s law partner in Stris & Maher LLP, presenting the oral argument.
Maher is an expert in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Affordable Care Act, and federal procedure. He has appeared eight times before the Supreme Court in a series of cases regarding federalism, regulation of the financial sector and employee benefits.