Investors may pursue U.S. lawsuit over Stanford fraud
* Chadbourne, Proskauer accused of fault over Ponzi scheme
* U.S. Supreme Court allowed lawsuit to go forward
* Law firms say investors' claims lack merit
By Jonathan Stempel
March 5 (Reuters) - A federal judge said investors who lost money in Allen Stanford's $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme may pursue most of their lawsuit accusing two large law firms that once represented the now-imprisoned financier of being partially at fault for their losses.
U.S. District Judge David Godbey in Dallas said on Wednesday the roughly 18,000 investors could pursue claims that Chadbourne & Parke and Proskauer Rose knew Stanford was selling fraudulent high-yielding certificates of deposit through his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, and helped him obstruct a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe.
The judge rejected defense arguments that they deserved immunity under Texas law for work they performed as lawyers. He dismissed claims regarding the sale of older CDs because they were brought too late, and claims accusing Chadbourne and Proskauer of negligently supervising their employees.
Godbey ruled after the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26, 2014 said the lawsuit, which raised claims under state law, could go forward despite protections afforded to defendants under a 1998 federal law, the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act.
The lawsuit seeks class action status for investors who suffered an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion of damages, the investors' lawyer Ed Snyder said. Continuación...