dismissed all claims against several rating agencies

SDNY Rules Rating Agencies Are Not Underwriters

On January 12, 2011, Federal District Judge Harold Baer, Jr. of the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”) dismissed all claims against several rating agencies (Moody’s, Fitch, S&P) in an RMBS securities class action. The putative class consists of all purchasers or acquirers of RMBS registered or traceable to a particular registration statement filed in either 2004 or 2005. Plaintiffs alleged that the rating agencies provided ratings based on insufficient information and faulty assumptions concerning the underlying mortgages and are liable as “underwriters” under Section 11 of the Securities Act. The court rejected this argument, finding that precedent clearly defined an underwriter as a party that serves as a conduit between the issuer and the public, and that the Rating Agencies’ significant role in the ability of Goldman Sachs to market the certificates at issue did not bring them within that definition. The Court also dismissed some, but not all, claims against Goldman Sachs. Decision.