United States v. O'Hagan, 521 U.S. 642, 20 (1997)

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Cite as: 521 U. S. 642 (1997)

Opinion of the Court

companies' shareholders) the nonpublic information on which he traded. See ibid. For that trading, the printer was convicted of violating § 10(b) and Rule 10b-5. We reversed the Court of Appeals judgment that had affirmed the conviction. See id., at 225.

The jury in Chiarella had been instructed that it could convict the defendant if he willfully failed to inform sellers of target company securities that he knew of a takeover bid that would increase the value of their shares. See id., at 226. Emphasizing that the printer had no agency or other fiduciary relationship with the sellers, we held that liability could not be imposed on so broad a theory. See id., at 235. There is under § 10(b), we explained, no "general duty between all participants in market transactions to forgo actions based on material, nonpublic information." Id., at 233. Under established doctrine, we said, a duty to disclose or abstain from trading "arises from a specific relationship between two parties." Ibid.

The Court did not hold in Chiarella that the only relationship prompting liability for trading on undisclosed information is the relationship between a corporation's insiders and shareholders. That is evident from our response to the Government's argument before this Court that the printer's mis-appropriation of information from his employer for purposes of securities trading—in violation of a duty of confidentiality owed to the acquiring companies—constituted fraud in connection with the purchase or sale of a security, and thereby satisfied the terms of § 10(b). Id., at 235-236. The Court declined to reach that potential basis for the printer's liability, because the theory had not been submitted to the jury. See id., at 236-237. But four Justices found merit in it. See id., at 239 (Brennan, J., concurring in judgment); id., at 240-243 (Burger, C. J., dissenting); id., at 245 (Blackmun, J., joined by Marshall, J., dissenting). And a fifth Justice stated that the Court "wisely le[ft] the resolution of this issue for another day." Id., at 238 (Stevens, J., concurring).


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