Ethical Obligations Decision

Solved: On behalf of himself and other similarly situated options invest

On behalf of himself and other similarly situated options investors, Rick Lockwood sued defendant, Standard & Poor’s Corporation (Standard & Poor’s), for breach of contract. Lockwood alleged that he and other options investors suffered lost profits on certain options contracts because Standard & Poor’s failed to correct a closing stock index value. Standard & Poor’s compiles and publishes two composite stock indexes, the ‘‘S&P 100’’ and the ‘‘S&P 500’’ (collectively the S&P indexes). The S&P indexes are weighted indexes of common stocks primarily listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Standard & Poor’s licenses its S&P indexes to the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) to allow the trading of securities options contracts (S&P index options) based on the S&P indexes (the license agreement). S&P index options are settled by the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC). The exercise settlement values for S&P index options are the closing index values for the S&P 100 and S&P 500 stock market indexes as reported by Standard & Poor’s to OCC following the close of trading on the day of exercise. In his complaint, Lockwood alleged that at approximately 4:12 P.M. on Friday, December 15, 1989, the last trading day prior to expiration of the December 1989 S&P index options contracts, the NYSE erroneously reported a closing price for Ford Motor Company common stock. Ford Motor Company was one of the composite stocks in both the S&P 100 and S&P 500. At approximately 4:13 P.M., Standard & Poor’s calculated and disseminated closing index values for the S&P 100 and S&P 500 stock market indexes based on the erroneous price for Ford stock. The NYSE reported a corrected closing price for Ford Motor at approximately 4:18 P.M. Standard & Poor’s corrected the values of the S&P 100 and S&P 500 stock market indexes the following Monday, December 18, 1989. In the meantime, however, OCC automatically settled all expiring S&P index options according to the expiration date of Saturday, December 16, 1989. OCC used the uncorrected closing index values to settle all expiring S&P index options. Due to the error, Lockwood alleges that the S&P 100 index was overstated by 0.15 and he lost $105. Lockwood claimed investors in S&P 500 index options suffered similar losses. Lockwood filed a class action on behalf of ‘‘all holders of long put options and all sellers of short call options on the S&P 100 or S&P 500 . which were settled based on the closing index values for December 15, 1989, as reported by Standard & Poor’s,’’ claiming that the options holders could recover in contract as third-party beneficiaries of the license agreement between Standard & Poor’s and the CBOE. Are the members of the class action suit entitled to recover? Explain.


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