Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., No. 01-56728.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam
Citation316 F.3d 1048
PartiesEMINENCE CAPITAL, LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant, and Jay Spechler, Plaintiff, v. ASPEON, INC.; Richard P. Stack, Defendants-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 01-56728.
Decision Date21 January 2003
316 F.3d 1048
EMINENCE CAPITAL, LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant, and
Jay Spechler, Plaintiff,
v.
ASPEON, INC.; Richard P. Stack, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 01-56728.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted October 9, 2002.
Filed January 21, 2003.

Page 1049

Solomon B. Cera, Gold Bennett Cera & Sidener LLP, San Francisco, CA, for the plaintiff-appellant.

Donald A. Daucher, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, Costa Mesa, CA, for the defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California; Alicemarie H. Stotler, District Judge, Presiding, D.C. No. CV-00-00995-AHS.

Before REINHARDT, TROTT and SILVERMAN, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM Opinion; Concurrence by Judge REINHARDT.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.


Eminence Capital, LLC, lead plaintiff in this class action securities fraud litigation, appeals the district court's dismissal with prejudice under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) of its first amended consolidated complaint for failure to state a claim. Because the district court failed to provide sufficient reasons to overcome the presumption in favor of granting leave to amend, we reverse the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

We summarize the facts set forth in appellant's first amended consolidated complaint and assume them to be true for the purposes of our decision. See Epstein v. Washington Energy Co., 83 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir.1996).

A. Facts

Appellee Aspeon, Inc., a company based in Irvine, California, manufactures and sells touch-screen hardware systems for retail business computer networks, such as those used by waiters in restaurants to enter customer orders.1 Appellee Richard Stack is Aspeon's Chief Executive Officer, and appellee Horace Hertz is Aspeon's former Chief Financial Officer. Lead plaintiff Eminence Capital, LLC, is an institutional investor and one of the shareholders

Page 1050

who purchased stock in Aspeon between October 28, 1999 and September 28, 2000 ("class period"). During the class period, Aspeon was a publicly traded company required to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission quarterly reports, known as Form 10-Qs, at the end of each financial quarter. At issue in this case are the 10-Qs for the quarters ending September 30, 1999, December 31, 1999, and March 31, 2000.

In each of its initial reports, accompanied by press releases, Aspeon painted a rosy picture of the company's profitability and financial prospects. In its 10-Q for the quarter ending September 30, 1999, Aspeon reported that revenues totaling $20.2 million represented an increase of 57 percent from the previous year. In its 10-Q for the quarter ending December 31, 1999, Aspeon reported that revenues totaling $24.3 million represented an increase of 36 percent from the previous year. In the accompanying press release, Stack stated that these "results demonstrate the ability of our management team to operate profitably the original hardware business while incubating a sizable ASP business." In its 10-Q for the quarter ending March 31, 2000, Aspeon reported revenues of $20.0 million compared to $21.1 million from the previous year. In a press release Stack announced that the company had "a clear path to profitability."

On September 29, 2000, Aspeon announced that it would be restating the quarterly results for the period in question. On or about December 18, 2000, Aspeon filed its restatement. In its restated form 10-Q/A for the quarter ending September 30, 1999, Aspeon stated that there had actually been losses resulting in income loss of 21% from the previously reported results.2 In its restated form 10-Q/A for the quarter ending December 31, 1999, Aspeon also reported losses rather than gains.3

Finally, in its restated form 10-Q/A for the quarter ending March 31, 2000, Aspeon reported losses resulting in a reduction of net income available to shareholders of $1,717,000. The price of Aspeon stock declined on October 10, 2000 to $1.50 per share, from a high of $30 per share on March 10, 2000. Aspeon was de-listed from the NASDAQ on January 4, 2001.

B. Procedural History

On October 11, 2000, Jay Spechler filed a class action suit against Aspeon, Stack, and Hertz in federal district court. The complaint alleged violations of sections 10(b)4 and 20(a)5 of the Securities Exchange

Page 1051

Act of 1934, and of Rule 10b-5.6

Eventually, eight separate shareholder suits were filed against Aspeon. On December 22, 2000, the district court granted plaintiff Spechler's motion to consolidate the cases. On January 5, 2001, the district court designated Eminence as lead plaintiff under 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B). On January 31, 2001, Eminence filed a "consolidated complaint." The district court granted Aspeon's motion to dismiss the complaint without prejudice on April 20, 2001. On May 21, 2001, Eminence filed a "first amended consolidated complaint." In addition to citing Aspeon's restatements for the first three quarters of fiscal year 2000, the first amended consolidated complaint also recounted a number of factual allegations to support its securities fraud claims. For purposes of clarity, the district court divided these claims into three categories: accounting improprieties, poor business judgments by Aspeon, and the allegedly suspicious relationship between Aspeon and its accountants, PriceWater-houseCoopers.

On September 14, 2001, the district court granted Aspeon's motion to dismiss the first amended consolidated complaint for failure to state a claim, with prejudice. While acknowledging that the complaint in some respects came close to satisfying the heightened pleading standards for securities fraud cases, the district court nevertheless found that Eminence had failed to plead "false statements" with particularity under § 10(b), and that it had failed to satisfy the scienter requirement of its § 10(b) claim, pursuant to the standards set forth in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and in In re Silicon Graphics Sec. Litig., 183 F.3d 970 (9th Cir.1999). Finally, stating that Eminence had had "three bites at the apple," the district court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. Eminence appeals.

II. DISCUSSION

Eminence contends that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing the first amended consolidated complaint with prejudice and thereby denying leave to amend. We agree, and reverse the judgment of the district court.

After a party has amended a pleading once as a matter of course, it may only amend further after obtaining leave of the court, or by consent of the adverse party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Generally, Rule 15 advises the court that "leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." This policy is "to be applied with extreme liberality." Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 712 (9th Cir.2001)(quoting Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir.1990)). In Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962), the Supreme Court offered the following factors a district court should consider in deciding whether to grant leave to amend:

Page 1052

In the absence of any apparent or declared reason — such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc. — the leave sought should, as the rules require, be "freely given."

Id. at 182, 83 S.Ct. 227. See also Allen v. City of Beverly Hills, 911 F.2d 367, 373, (9th Cir.1990)(citing Foman factors, as well as "previous amendment"); Hurn v. Ret. Fund Trust of the Plumbing, Heating &...

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    ...factors, "there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003) (emphasis in original)."Futility of amendment can, by itself, justify the denial of a motion for leave to amend." Bonin v. C......
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    • December 7, 2017
    ...amend her Monell claim.Generally, leave to amend shall be freely given when justice so requires. Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003). "This policy is ‘to be applied with extreme liberality.’ " Id. (quoting Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 ......
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3986 cases
  • Low v. Linkedin Corp., Case No. 11–CV–01468–LHK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • July 12, 2012
    ...the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [and] futility of amendment, etc.' ” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051–52 (9th Cir.2003) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962)). Leave to amend need not be granted w......
  • Hart v. Larson, Case No.: 3:16–cv–01460–BEN–MDD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • February 3, 2017
    ...833 F.2d 183, 186 (9th Cir. 1987). "This policy is ‘to be applied with extreme liberality.’ " Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 712 (9th Cir. 2001) ). Courts consider "undue delay, bad ......
  • King v. Export Dev. Can. (In re Zetta Jet USA, Inc.), Case No.: 2:17-bk-21386-SK
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Central District of California
    • July 29, 2020
    ...factors, "there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003) (emphasis in original)."Futility of amendment can, by itself, justify the denial of a motion for leave to amend." Bonin v. C......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • December 7, 2017
    ...amend her Monell claim.Generally, leave to amend shall be freely given when justice so requires. Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003). "This policy is ‘to be applied with extreme liberality.’ " Id. (quoting Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 ......
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