Morrison & Foerster achieved a landmark settlement for its client Farmland Partners Inc. (FPI), a publicly traded farmland REIT located in Denver, Colorado.
The matter involved a short-and-distort case against Quinton Mathews, the previously anonymous author known as “Rota Fortunae,” of a defamatory article published on the financial website “Seeking Alpha” that drove down FPI's stock price by 39% in one day, allowing Mr. Mathews and his clients to profit from their short positions.
As part of the settlement, Mathews acknowledged publicly that his July 2018 article was full of false statements, and Mathews made a payment that was multiples of the profits he made off the scheme.
The case presented novel legal issues, including: unmasking an anonymous author in a defamation case; how to serve an anonymous party; how to remove to federal court without consent of unknown Doe defendants; the applicability of anti-SLAPP statutes in federal court; determining whether, and when, statutes of limitations run for anonymous parties, and resolving thorny questions of personal jurisdiction.
The team representing FPI included Corporate Finance partner Justin Salon; Litigation partners Scott Llewellyn and Grant Esposito; and Securities Litigation partner Michael Birnbaum; with Litigation associates Shaelyn Dawson, Kyle Pietari, and Brenden Cline.