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Cases

 

When small entrepreneurs and investors run afoul of the SEC, often unwittingly, recourse is limited. Most cannot afford the legal counsel to challenge a ruling and fight back against an agency with almost unlimited resources. As a result, the SEC currently enjoys an astonishing 98% settlement rate, a number which represents countless lives and businesses ruined and opportunities lost. 
 

With each settlement, the power and dominion of the SEC grows, uncontested. So too does the uncertainty and risk that stifles market innovation and investor choice.
 

 ICAN exists to build a precedent-based legal barrier to halt such SEC overreach. To ensure that the agency’s efforts to expand its domain do not advance uncontested. To ensure small entrepreneurs and investors have the opportunity to push back, not just for themselves, but for the next person who may unwittingly get caught in the SEC’s ever-expanding dragnet of regulation through enforcement.

Our Clients

SEC v Punch TV

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ICAN’s first direct litigation case is still on-going, but we already consider it a notable accomplishment because by stepping in at the 11th hour, when our client – Joseph Collins and his company Punch TV – had exhausted his resources to continue his fight against an overzealous SEC, ICAN prevented him being steamrolled into a ruinous settlement that would have bankrupted Joseph and his company over an unintentional technical violation of an SEC registration requirement – an infraction Joseph himself brought to the SEC’s attention. By ensuring that our client will now be able to continue his fight with experienced legal counsel at his side, we have also robbed the SEC of yet another unearned victory. 

Joseph’s experience – which you can read more about in our Client Profile – is a frightening example of how easily a small entrepreneur can find themselves tangled up in the regulatory labyrinth of an activist SEC, and the power of that government agency to destroy lives over even technical infractions.

The case is ongoing, and it remains to be seen if ICAN’s last-minute intervention will change the outcome, but one thing is certain: without representation to push back, defendants like Joseph don’t stand a chance in federal court, and the SEC will be free to continue pushing the law in a pro-regulatory direction in one case after another with little resistance.

If our client loses at the District Court this spring ICAN is prepared to take the case to the Ninth Court of Appeals, potentially putting us on a path to the Supreme Court. 

SEC v Barry et al. 

At its heart, the story of SEC v Barry et al. is a story of three average Americans whose lives were destroyed after they inadvertently ran afoul of the SEC while simply doing their jobs. It is a story of how the SEC has spent the past eight years and untold millions of tax dollars pursuing a case that involves no allegations of investor harm or fraud by ICAN’s clients. It is a story that illustrates the dangers of an unrestrained government agency that is increasingly willing to use its inexhaustible resources and punitive powers to expand its scope and reach.

Brenda Barry, Eric Cannon, and Caleb Moody worked as sales agents for PacWest, a company selling an investment offering called life settlements. In 2016, the SEC sued PacWest, its founder, and other personnel, including our clients, alleging the life settlements arrangements should have been registered as a securities offering and that Brenda, Eric, and Caleb should have been registered as securities brokers.

In filing suit, the SEC did not allege that any investors were harmed or that any investor had complained. They did not allege that Brenda, Eric, or Caleb misled anyone about the investment. As sales agents, Brenda, Eric, and Caleb (non-lawyers certified to sell insurance products under California law) had no reason to believe they were violating any law. Nevertheless, when the SEC sued in federal court, they went after not just the company but individual employees caught up in the wide net they cast. While the other PacWest defendants are no longer litigating with the SEC (because they settled or were put into receivership) the amount of money being sought from our clients is financially ruinous. They don’t have the luxury of settling to escape the ire of the SEC. That is where ICAN comes in.

Before the establishment of ICAN, members of our team provided pro bono legal assistance to Brenda, Eric, and Caleb in their eight-year battle with the SEC. Now, under the auspices of ICAN, we can continue that fight. It is a fight not just to ensure Brenda, Eric, and Caleb receive justice but to begin building a legal bulwark against the kind of SEC overreach that harms investors and creates de facto barriers that stifle innovation and further limit engagement in the market by those who cannot afford to risk incurring the ire of the SEC.

SEC v Schueler 

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Can the SEC sue a piece of software? Investor Choice Advocates Network was proud to provide pro bono representation to PulseChain Foundation with excellent co-counsel Kayvan Sadeghi and Emily Mannheimer at Jenner & Block to challenge the unprecedented departure from the SEC's already expansive approach to crypto enforcement by naming as party defendants a blockchain token, a blockchain network, and a protocol deployed on a blockchain network in SEC v. Scheuler. 

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