Well, no need to worry that Floyd Abrams will be sitting around twiddling his thumbs if newspapers go out of business. For the foreseeable future, the Cahill Gordon & Reindel partner and famed defender of the free press will be busy trotting out First Amendment arguments on behalf of ratings agencies accused of contributing to the economic meltdown via overly rosy evaluations of drecky high-risk securities. A couple of weeks ago we told you that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System had thrown its $173 billion of muscle into the litigation against Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch. Now, a second pension fund, the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi, has joined the fight. On Friday the Mississippi fund filed a securities class action against the ratings agencies in federal district court in Brooklyn.
The complaint claims that Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch had a practice of misleading investors by bestowing high ratings on pools of high-risk subprime mortgage-backed investment entities. But unlike the CalPERS case, which was filed in California state court and focuses on only the pension fund’s losses, the Mississippi class action purports to represent “all persons or entities who purchased mortgage pass-through certificates” sold by J.P. Morgan Acceptance Corp.
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