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Ibew Local 98 Pension Fund v. Best Buy Co., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 30, 2014

IBEW Local 98 Pension Fund, Marian Haynes, and Rene LeBlanc, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
Best Buy Co., Inc.; Brian J. Dunn; Jim Muehlbauer; and Mike Vitelli, Defendants.

Clayton D. Halunen, Esq., Halunen & Associates; Shawn J. Wanta, Esq., Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP; Aelish M. Baig, Esq., Kenneth J. Black, Esq., Daniel J. Pfefferbaum, Esq., and Shawn A. Williams, Esq., Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP; and Vernon J. Vander Weide, Esq., Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, counsel for Plaintiffs IBEW Local 98 Pension Fund and Marion Haynes, Lead Plaintiff.

Clayton D. Halunen, Esq., Halunen & Associates; Shawn J. Wanta, Esq., Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP; D. Seamus Kaskela, Esq., and David M. Promisloff, Esq., Barroway Topaz Kessler Meltzer & Check, LLP; and Garrett D. Blanchfield, Jr., Esq., Reinhardt Wendorf & Blanchfield, counsel for Plaintiff Rene LeBlanc, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated.

Hillel I. Parness, Esq., Amy S. Slusser, Esq., Barr M. Landy, Esq., David W. Beehler, Esq., Michael V. Ciresi, Esq., Nicole S. Frank, Esq., Patricia Furlong, Esq., Sara A. Poulos, Esq., and Stephen P. Safranski, Esq., Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi LLP, counsel for Defendants

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Motion to Strike Pursuant to Rules 12(c) and 12(f) brought by Defendants Best Buy Co., Inc. ("Best Buy" or the "Company"), Brian J. Dunn ("Dunn"), Jim Muehlbauer ("Muehlbauer"), and Mike Vitelli ("Vitelli") (collectively, "Defendants"). (Doc. No. 104.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motions.

BACKGROUND

This action is a securities class action brought by Plaintiffs on behalf of all persons who purchased or otherwise acquired the common stock of Best Buy between the dates of September 14, 2010 and December 13, 2010 (the "Class Period"), against Defendants, for violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "1934 Act"). The facts of this case are fully set forth in the Court's previous orders. Therefore the Court will only summarize and supplement the relevant facts below.

In February 2011, Plaintiffs filed this action. (Doc. No. 1 ("Compl.").) On October 29, 2012, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Class Action Complaint, asserting two causes of action: (1) Violation of Section 10(b) of the 1934 Act and Rule 10b-5; and (2) Violation of Section 20(a) of the 1934 Act. (Doc. No. 61 ("FAC") ¶¶ 185-91.)[1] Plaintiffs' claims are based on four allegedly fraudulent statements. The first three statements relate to Best Buy's 2011 fiscal year projections and include statements: (1) regarding Best Buy's FY 2011 EPS guidance of $3.55-$3.70 per share; (2) that Best Buy was "on track to deliver and exceed [the] annual EPS guidance"; and (3) that Best Buy's earnings were "essentially in line with [Best Buy's] original expectations for the year." ( Id. ¶ 66.) The fourth statement was made by Vitelli on November 24, 2010 regarding television sales, particularly that: "Flat-screens are doing well at different levels.... We are doing really well at Magnolia at the high end with 3-D. And the entry-level pieces are going really strong." ( Id. ¶ 105.)

By Order dated August 5, 2013, the Court partially granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' FAC. (Doc. No. 78.) Specifically, the Court found two of the allegedly fraudulent statements were not actionable - the first and fourth statements. ( Id. at 15-21.) The Court concluded that the second and third statements (the "on track" and "in line" statements) were not "forward-looking" statements subject to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act's ("PSLRA") safe harbor, and that the statements were sufficiently pled so as to survive Defendants' motion to dismiss. ( Id. ) The second and third statements were made by Muehlbauer on September 14, 2010, during an investor conference call that included Dunn, Muehlbauer, and Vitelli. (FAC ¶¶ 7, 72.)

Defendants now move for judgment on the pleadings as to Plaintiffs' claims against Vitelli and to strike certain allegations in the FAC.

DISCUSSION

I. Judgment on the Pleadings

A party may move for judgment on the pleadings at any point after the close of pleadings, but early enough to avoid a delay of trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The Court evaluates a motion for judgment on the pleadings under the same standard as a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6). See Ashley Cnty. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659, ...


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