Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Credit Rating Firms' Opinions Protected By Free Speech Against Liability

From The Wall Street Journal article, "Ratings Firms Notch Legal Victory: Court Finds Raters Can't Be Held Liable for Stances on Mortgage Securities" by Michael Corkery:
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Moody's Corp., Standard & Poor's, and Fitch Ratings can't be held liable for their ratings of mortgage-backed securities.

In a decision upholding a lower court's dismissal of the case brought by pension funds in Wyoming and Detroit, the Second Circuit judges wrote that ratings firms provided "merely opinions" about the credit-worthiness of the securities.

Opinions are protected by the First Amendment, a defense the rating firms have often used in the past.
The full text of the court opinion is available here.

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