Schneiderman v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC—New York Court of Appeals Holds That Martin Act Claims Are Governed by Three-Year Statute of Limitations: Decision Overrules 26-Year-Old Appellate Division Precedent That Applied Six-Year Statute of Limitations to Martin Act Claims Brought by New York Attorney GeneralSullivan & Cromwell LLP - June 14, 2018
On June 12, 2018, the New York Court of Appeals—the State’s highest court—held that claims by the New York Attorney General (“NYAG”) for “fraud” under New York’s General Business Law article 23-A, commonly known as the Martin Act, are subject to a three-year statute of limitations for statutory claims, because the Martin Act imposes liabilities that “did not exist at common law.” The Court left unresolved whether claims by the NYAG under New York’s Executive Law § 63(12) are subject to a three- or six-year statute of limitations. Instead, the Court remitted that decision to the trial court to determine whether “the conduct underlying” the NYAG’s Executive Law § 63(12) claim amounts to (i) “a type of fraud recognized in the common law,” in which case the claim would be subject to a six-year statute of limitations, or (ii) a type of fraud not recognized in the common law, in which case the three-year statute of limitations would apply. Because of the NYAG’s repeated reliance on the Martin Act in recent years in bringing cases seeking large penalties, particularly against financial institutions in cases arising out of the financial crisis, the Court of Appeals’ decision is significant and provides defendants with an important defense against claims involving stale conduct. This potential defense, in turn, may cause the NYAG to accelerate the pace of investigations and lawsuits.