Secondary actors such as attorneys can only be held liable for false statements in private damages actions under the securities laws if the statements are attributable to them at the time they are disseminated, a federal appeals court decided Tuesday.

Ruling in a civil suit brought against Mayer Brown and former partner and now prison inmate Joseph Collins in connection with the Refco Inc. securities fraud and financial meltdown, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected civil liability for both in Pacific Investment Management Co. v. Mayer Brown, 09-1619-cv.

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