Insider trading suit against Deerfield doc dismissed

By Ameet Sachdev
Posted Dec. 21, 2010 at 4:33 p.m.

An insider-trading lawsuit against a Deerfield ophthalmologist has been dismissed after a judge found that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission did not have enough evidence to show that the doctor possessed material, nonpublic information.

In February, the SEC had filed a civil suit against Dr. Gerald Horn, accusing him of engaging in illegal insider trading in the stock and options of his employer, LCA Vision Inc., between December 2005 and August 2006. The trades resulted in illicit gains of $1.4 million, the SEC said.

The SEC alleged that Horn accessed nonpublic information contained in monthly reports that listed the number of laser eye surgeries performed companywide to determine whether LCA would meet its quarterly revenue targets. He then made successful options purchases on the basis of that information, the SEC said.

But U.S. District Judge John Darrah ruled on Dec. 16 that the case should be terminated before it goes to trial because the SEC’s evidence was too speculative for a jury to consider. The judge found that the SEC had no evidence that Dr. Horn accessed any specific company reports, let alone possessed any. He also said the SEC’s circumstantial evidence was insufficient.

“After investigating Dr. Horn’s trading activities for four years, deposing him (twice), deposing fourteen other individuals, and review documents, the SEC has now been forced to show its hand; and it has failed to demonstrate any reason for this case to proceed to trial,” Darrah wrote.

SEC lawyers involved in the case did not immediately return calls seeking comment. An attorney for Horn also could not be immediately reached.

At the time the complaint was filed, Horn was 57 years old and was the medical director of LCA’s Schaumburg facility.

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