JOHN R. BROWN, Chief Judge:
In this action under Rule X-10b-5,
We choose not to take issue with the finding that Appellant was a sophisticated investor.
Mickey Mantle's Country Cookin', Inc. was in 1969, one of a number of attempts to capitalize on both the concept of franchising and the modern passion of Americans to dine out at moderately-priced fast service restaurants. The Appellant, himself a franchiser of swimming pool construction companies, first met the defendant Smith and Mickey Mantle's in connection with the sale of a swimming pool intended as a gift to Mickey Mantle, the famous baseball player. At the time, Appellee was the president and a director of Mickey Mantle's Country Cookin', Inc.
The exact terms of the sale are hotly disputed. The Plaintiff-appellant contended that although he delivered fully negotiable cashier's checks to Smith on June 27, 1969, the sale was not to be complete until (i) a public offering of the shares was completed the following month, and (ii) there was a rise in market value of the shares to between $20 and $30 per share, and (iii) Stier further contended that some agreement existed whereby Smith would repurchase the shares should the expected rise in market price fail to materialize.
Smith did concede at the trial, and the District Court found, that Appellee promised to hold the checks until a public offering of the shares at $15 per share was accomplished. The District Court found and concluded however that events taking place after the consummation of the sale—which was how he
We do not dispute the finding that Appellant had adequate access to the information "he thought at the time of the sale was necessary for him to make a decision." (Emphasis added). We conclude however that where defendant—an insider—fails to make disclosure of information by which plaintiff "would have been influenced to act differently than he did if the defendant had disclosed to him the undisclosed fact", see List v. Fashion Park, Inc., 2 Cir., 1965, 340 F.2d 457, cert. denied, List v. Lerner, 382 U.S. 811, 86 S.Ct. 23, 15 L.Ed.2d 60, he cannot hide behind the defense that plaintiff didn't appear to want the information. Stated in its simplest form, when defendant fails to disclose information, the law will presume that plaintiff would have wanted to know the information if he had an inkling of its existence.
We should always be wary of holding that a purchaser of securities, who deals with the corporate insider, could have found out omitted material facts by examining the corporate books or undertaking other extensive investigations. To do so is to allow the insider to present prospective purchasers with a mountain of information which they cannot possibly digest and excuse themselves from liability on the basis that they did not provide the right answers because they were not asked the right questions. See, Dale v. Rosenfeld, 2 Cir., 1956, 229 F.2d 855, 858. "Readiness and willingness to disclose are not equivalent to disclosure." Hughes v. Securities and Exchange Commission,
In the instant case the District Court found that (a) on July 29, 1969 Mickey Mantle's Country Cookin', Inc. loaned $650,000 to Food Franchise Development Company, Inc., at which time Food Franchise had a net value of $1,000. This money, the Court found, (b) was used by Food Franchise Development Company, Inc. to purchase approximately 67,000 shares of the 200,000 shares in the public offering. The District Court also found that (c) defendant represented to plaintiffs that he would "hold the cashier's checks until the public offering * * * to the general public * * * had been completed.
These findings, compelled as they are by the evidence, are in clear conflict with the conclusion of law— which the trial Court also found as a fact—that events occurring after the June delivery of the checks were not material. We therefore reject that finding.
When we add (a), (b) and (c) above, with the finding that there was no firm underwriting agreement on June 27, the date of delivery of the checks, we are compelled to conclude as a matter of law that because of this lack of information Appellant purchased stock which he probably would not have purchased had he had the stated information—which information Appellee had a duty to provide.
Whether or not the sale was "consummated" by some magical passage of title or fixation of legal rights at the time of the delivery of the checks is irrelevant. The sale was subject to the condition that the public offering would occur. It did not.
On oral argument—which was not attended by Appellee's counsel—Appellant argued that the reason that Food Franchise Development Inc. purchased the stock was because the underwriters balked at carrying out the agreement in light of the fact, which the district court found, that all but two franchisees of Mickey Mantle's declined to purchase any of the 58,500 shares which had been allocated to them in the public offering. On our approach it is not necessary that we find as a fact any alleged ultimatum by the underwriters that Mickey Mantle's find a purchaser for the stock reserved for franchisees or see the deal fall through, especially since it is not our prerogative to make findings of fact on appeal.
The reason why the public offering could not be completed is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that appellant Stier was purchasing stock in reliance on there being a successful public
The case is reversed and remanded with directions to enter judgment for Appellant for the full purchase price of the stocks and the cost of this appeal.
Reversed and remanded.
The contention made in Appellee's brief that there is not sufficient evidence of the involvement of any instrumentality of interstate commerce is without merit.
Appellant did not have his own stockbroker, he used his mother-in-law's, and the franchising he was engaged in did not —at least from the meager evidence in the record—appear to have been of the newer, get rich quick/hot dog stand, variety.
Consonant with the District Court's findings, Appellant may not have thought that knowledge of the loan was necessary to a prudent decision. But this is only because he had no reason to suspect that such a transaction was taking place, a fact which was a result of Smith's calculated silence.