WASHINGTON, June 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court said
on Monday it would hear an appeal by Amgen Inc of a ruling that
upheld class certification of a securities class-action lawsuit
accusing the biotech company of failing to disclose safety
information about two products used to treat anemia.
The justices in a brief order agreed to review a ruling last
year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in
California that a federal district court did not abuse its
discretion in certifying the class.
At issue were the anti-anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen. The
lawsuit said the alleged misrepresentations covered the period
from April 2004 through May 2007.
Amgen was accused in the lawsuit of exaggerating the safety
of its products for U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved
The plaintiff, a state pension fund called the Connecticut
Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, claimed in the lawsuit that
Amgen misrepresented its marketing practices by saying it
promoted its products solely for on-label uses when it promoted
The appeals court ruled the plaintiff to win class
certification must plausibly allege, but does not have to prove,
that Amgen's misrepresentations were material.
Amgen appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that a district
court must demand proof of materiality in such securities fraud
lawsuits before class certification. It said the plaintiff
failed to prove the alleged misrepresentations had a material
impact on Amgen's stock price.
Amgen also said in the Supreme Court appeal that in such
cases the district court must allow the defendant to present
evidence rebutting the applicability of the securities fraud
theory used in the lawsuit before certifying the class.
Amgen was supported in its appeal by a number of business
trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America as well as
former commissioners and officials of the U.S. Securities and
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case during its
upcoming term that begins in October, with a ruling likely early
next year. The case will be heard by eight of the nine justices.
Justice Stephen Breyer took no part in considering the appeal.
The Supreme Court case is Amgen v. Connecticut Retirement
Plans and Trust Funds, No. 11-1085.
For Amgen: Seth Waxman of WilmerHale
For Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Frunds: Jonathan
Plasse of Labaton Sucharow
(Reporting by James Vicini)
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