Suzette Pringle

Managing Associate
White Collar, Investigations, Securities Litigation & Compliance
Read full biography at www.orrick.com

Ms. Pringle is a managing associate in Orrick’s San Francisco office and a member of the White Collar, Investigations, Securities Litigation & Compliance Group. Her practice focuses on the representation of major financial institutions, corporations, and individuals in securities and complex commercial actions and internal investigations. 

Ms. Pringle’s engagements include the representation of a leading medical equipment manufacturer, a luxury automotive manufacturer, a leading electronics company, Fortune 100 corporations, and corporate employees.

Ms. Pringle’s recent engagements also include: 

  • Representing an investment bank and a loan servicing company in multiple New York state court actions by monoline insurers seeking to deny coverage under financial guarantees covering residential mortgage-backed securitizations
  • Representing an investment bank and a loan servicing company in multiple New York state court actions initiated by certificateholders of residential mortgage-backed securities claiming breaches of representations and warranties related to residential mortgage loans
  • Representing a corporation and its owner in a California state court action initiated by international plaintiffs alleging fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty claims
  • Conducting a corporate internal investigation into allegations about compliance issues at a Fortune 100 company

Additionally, Ms. Pringle devotes a portion of her practice to providing pro bono services to veterans seeking VA benefits, homeless individuals seeking the resolution of open criminal warrants, and low income individuals seeking criminal record remedies (including expungements) and occupational licenses.

Prior to joining Orrick, Ms. Pringle was a litigation fellow in the Office of General Counsel for The Regents of the University of California, where she practiced general, commercial and probate litigation, and handled mandamus actions.

Suzette Pringle

FINRA Issues Largest Fine Regarding Variable Annuities Contracts

On May 3, 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced that MetLife Securities, Inc. agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations that the company misled its customers in tens of thousands of variable annuity replacement applications.  The sanction represents FINRA’s largest fine related to variable annuities.

Variable annuities (“VAs”) are highly complex and highly regulated insurance contracts that guarantee their holders—typically retirees—a minimum payment at the end of an accumulation stage.  When a consumer seeks to replace one VA for another, her broker must complete an Annuity Replacement and Transfer Disclosure (ARTD) setting forth the comparative cost and guarantee information about existing and proposed annuity contracts.  In New York, brokers must also complete a “Regulation 60 Disclosure,” which contains a hypothetical illustration of death benefits and surrender values for existing and proposed contracts under various hypothetical market growth rates.

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Eighth Circuit Breathes Life Into Halliburton’s Price Impact Defense

The first Circuit Court of Appeals decision applying the Supreme Court’s landmark 2014 decision in Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2398 (2014) (“Halliburton II”), favored the defendants, finding as a matter of law that Best Buy Co. and its executives successfully rebutted the presumption of reliance set forth in Basic v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988) at the class certification stage through evidence of a lack of price impact from their alleged misstatements.  See IBEW Local 98 Pension Fund et al. v. Best Buy Co., Inc. et al., Case No. 14-3178 (8th Cir. Apr. 12, 2016).  By reversing the district court and holding that a class could not be certified, the Eighth Circuit showed that Halliburton II provides defendants with a meaningful opportunity to challenge the fraud on the market presumption.  The plaintiffs’ bar, however, will be eager to highlight Best Buy’s unique pattern in trying to limit the impact of the decision beyond this case.  Whether other federal courts follow the Eighth Circuit’s lead and deny class certification motions based on Halliburton II in greater numbers, and outside the Best Buy fact pattern, remains to be seen.

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Second Circuit Applies Omnicare to Affirm Dismissal of Securities Fraud Actions

On March 4, 2016, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of two related securities actions against Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, its predecessor Genzyme Corporation, and three company executives (collectively, “Sanofi”).  In doing so, the Second Circuit offered its first substantial interpretation of the Supreme Court’s March 2015 decision in Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund, 135 S. Ct. 1318 (2015), which addresses how plaintiffs can allege securities claims based on statements of opinion.

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SEC Announces Settlement with State Street – and a Suit Against a Big Law Partner – for Pay-to-Play Scheme

On January 14, 2016, the SEC entered into two no-admit, no deny settlements regarding an alleged pay-to-play scheme to obtain contracts from the Treasury Office for the State of Ohio.  The first was with State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street” or “the Bank”) – a custodian bank that provides asset servicing to institutional clients, and  the second with Vincent DeBaggis, a former State Street executive.  On the same day, the SEC filed suit against attorney Robert Crowe for his role in the scheme which allegedly involved causing concealed campaign contributions to be made to the Ohio Treasury Office to influence the awarding of contracts to State Street.  Mr. Crowe is a partner at the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and a former lobbyist for the Bank.

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SEC Eliminates References to Credit Ratings in Money Market Fund Rules

On September 16, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) adopted revisions to Rule 2a-7, the primary rule governing money market funds.  The amendments implement provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act that require federal agencies to replace references to credit ratings in regulations with alternative standards of credit-worthiness, and are consistent with the SEC’s goal of reducing its reliance on credit ratings.

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You Can’t Cover Up Fraud with TARP Funds: US Government Sues Bank President’s Estate

On July 1, 2015, the United States for the District of Columbia sued the estate and trusts of the late Layton P. Stuart – the former owner of One Financial Corporation and its subsidiary One Bank & Trust– and the trust’s beneficiaries, for alleged fraud on the Treasury Department and its Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”).  This civil suit is the latest in a growing list of cases brought by the government to recover TARP funds that it alleges were fraudulently procured.

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Fannie and Freddie Shareholders Sue FHFA and Treasury Department Over Payment of Profits to U.S. Government

On May 28, 2015, three Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “Companies”) shareholders filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa against the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”), its director, and the U.S. Treasury Department in connection with FHFA’s agreement to pay all of the Companies’ profits to the Treasury on a quarterly basis (the “Net Worth Sweep”).  According to plaintiffs, the Net Worth Sweep would be all encompassing depriving the private shareholders of their profits forever.

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New House Bill Aims to Reduce Some Dodd-Frank Regulatory Burdens

On January 14, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that loosens certain Dodd-Frank requirements and reduces the scope of the SEC’s regulatory authority over certain private equity firms, small businesses, and emerging companies. The bill is part of a larger fight between Democrats and Republicans over the scope of Dodd-Frank and government oversight over financial institutions generally.

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Ninth Circuit Applies Heightened Pleading Standards for Loss Causation

On December 16, 2014, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court of Arizona’s dismissal of a Section 10(b) class action against Apollo Education Group, Inc., a for-profit education company, and several of its officers and directors. In doing so, the Ninth Circuit held that the heightened pleading standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 9(b) applies to all elements of a securities fraud action, including loss causation.

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Is Your Bank Stressed Out? OCC Follows Fed on Proposed Stress-Test Changes

On September 10, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) published proposed revisions to its information collecting regulations related to the Dodd-Frank Act’s “stress test” for large national banks and federal savings associations.

Section 165(i)(2) of the Act requires certain financial institutions, including national banks and federal savings associations that have at least $10 billion in total consolidated assets (“covered institutions”), to conduct annual “stress tests” and report the findings to the Federal Reserve System and the institution’s primary governing regulatory agency. In July, the Fed proposed changes to its stress test rules, including revisions to almost twenty schedules that must be completed by covered institutions with over $50 billion in total consolidated assets, and changes to the institutions’ filing deadlines. The OCC’s proposed revisions would bring its reporting requirements in line with the Fed’s proposed requirements. Read More