Tag: Martin Act

The Martin Act and Common-Law Claims

William Savitt is a partner in the Litigation Department of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. This post is based on a Wachtell Lipton firm memorandum from Mr. Savitt, Herbert M. Wachtell, John F. Savarese, Jonathan M. Moses, David B. Anders, and Jasand Mock.

In a decision troublesome to the business community, the New York Court of Appeals has now determined that the New York Martin Act does not preempt private plaintiff lawsuits based solely upon traditional common-law causes of action such as negligence and breach of fiduciary duty — even where there may be overlap with statutory claims reserved to the New York Attorney General. From the fact that the Act itself had been held years ago not to give rise to a private cause of action, numerous rulings from both New York State and Federal courts held that the Act preempted non-fraud common-law tort claims. Deeming itself unable to find anything in either the text of the statute or its legislative history that would support such preemption, the Court affirmed a more recent ruling by the Appellate Division, First Department, and ruled the doctrine out. Assured Guarantee (UK) Ltd. v. J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc., No. 227 (N.Y. Dec. 20, 2011).

In doing so, the Court nevertheless reaffirmed its prior rulings that the Martin Act itself creates no private right of action and that preemption would continue to exist where the claim is entirely dependent upon a violation of the Martin Act or its implementing regulations, including certain specific real estate provisions that are part of the Act.


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