November 29, 2017
On November 29, 2017, Judge Michael M. Anello of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granted Lead Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, appointed the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System (“APERS”) and Pensionskassen For Børne-Og Ungdomspædagoger (“PBU”), as the Class Representatives, and appointed NPR as Co-Class Counsel. NPR filed a motion for class certification on behalf of APERS, PBU and the class of investors on May 19, 2017 and numerous briefs in support of the motion over the next several months. On November 13, 2017, the Court held a hearing on the motion.
Following the hearing, in a written order, the Court agreed with NPR that the class of investors met all of the requirements for class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The Court found that APERS and PBU were adequate and typical representatives of the class. And, the Court appointed NPR as Co-Class Counsel after finding NPR was sufficiently qualified to adequately represent the class. As such, the Court certified the class of investors to include the following:
All persons and entities who purchased or otherwise acquired the publicly traded common stock of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. between August 29, 2013 and August 12, 2014, who did not sell such such acquired securities before August 13, 2014, and were damaged. Excluded from the class are: (i) Defendants, (ii) present or former executive officers of SeaWorld, members of SeaWorld’s Board of Directors, and members of their immediate families, (iii) any of the foregoing persons’ legal representatives, heirs, successors or assigns, and (iv) any entity in which Defendants have or had a controlling interest or any affiliate of SeaWorld.
The class alleges that SeaWorld and certain of its executives made false and misleading statements concerning the cause of its unprecedented attendance declines and other business concerns in 2013 and 2014, which came on the heels of a documentary, Blackfish—a film that indicted SeaWorld’s core business and operations and sparked public outrage over the Company’s treatment of its orca whales. The class asserts claims under Section 10b and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against SeaWorld and certain of its former officers, and under Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act against the officers and the private equity firm that took SeaWorld public in 2013, The Blackstone Group, L.P.
NPR’s complex litigation team—partners Jeffrey Angelovich, Brad Beckworth and Susan Whatley and associates Lisa Baldwin, Trey Duck, Drew Pate and Cody Hill—lead the prosecution of this case. The Court’s certification order in the SeaWorld case can be viewed below: