Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Class Action Settlements’ Category

A few weeks ago, I posted a link to a Cornerstone Research report concluding that securities class action settlements were at a 10-year low.  Yesterday, securities litigators Daniel Tyukody and Gerald Silk posted an article in the New York Times DealBook blog entitled Understanding the Dip in Class-Action Securities Settlements with some insights explaining the downturn.  Among the explanations are lower starting inventory, the added size and complexity of credit crisis-related lawsuits, increased legislative and judicial scrutiny over securities class actions, and a decline of financial restatements by companies.  The article is a must read for anyone interested in understanding US securities class action trends.

Read Full Post »

David Lat posted an article on the legal industry blog Above the Law yesterday that caught my eye.  Lat’s post, entitled Benchslap of the Day: Second Circuit Rebukes Rakoffdiscusses the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ per curium decision granting a stay pending the appeal of the lower court’s refusal to approve the settlement in SEC v. Citigroup Global Markets Inc., No. 11-5227-cv (2d Cir., Mar. 15, 2012).  Although the case is an SEC enforcement action and not a class action, I would argue that the following sentiment from the Second Circuit’s opinion applies with equal force in the class action context:

It is commonplace for settlements to include no binding admission of liability. A settlement is by definition a compromise. We know of no precedent that supports the proposition that a settlement will not be found to be fair, adequate, reasonable, or in the public interest unless liability has been conceded or proved and is embodied in the judgment. We doubt whether it lies within a court’s proper discretion to reject a settlement on the basis that liability has not been conclusively determined.

There is a corollary to this statement, which holds that a settlement does not have to fully compensate alleged victims in order to be fair and reasonable.  Too often, I hear statements by the media, members of the public, and even lawyers and judges, that are critical of a class action settlement because it does not fully compensate the members of a class or because it does not force a defendant to fully pay for the alleged harm.  As the Second Circuit panel’s opinion reminds us, a settlement is a compromise.  Except perhaps in the rare case where liability has already been proven, it is not unfair or unreasonable that a class action settlement does not provide full relief for the alleged victims of some as-yet unproven wrong.  You can bet that I will be citing this decision the next time I face that sort of argument in a class action settlement.

Read Full Post »

The Record staff writer Harvy Lipman authored this article today discussing the New Jersey Attorney General’s warning to consumers about a scam involving a fake class action notice.  The official-looking notice directs recipients to send personal information in order to obtain settlement benefits in a fictitious securities case brought by a fictitious government official.

I have to wonder whether the emergence of fake class action notice scams will provide fodder for class action settlement objectors who argue about the effectiveness of a real class action settlement notice program.  This is all the more reason to do something that I preach about regularly on CAB: always consider retaining a qualified notice expert as part of a class action settlement.

Read Full Post »

Alison Frankel, whose On the Case blog is featured in the Thomson Reuters News and Insight section, posted this interesting article today discussing a novel alternative to the class action as a device to resolve mass disputes.  The procedural device in question is Article 77 of the New York State Code, which allows a trustee to seek court approval of decisions relating to a trust.  Frankel’s article today offers an update on proceedings brought under Article 77 seeking approval of an agreement between institutional investors and the trustee of hundreds of residential mortgage-securitization trusts, which had created in order to allow banks to raise funds in order to offer residential mortgages to consumers.  If approved, the settlement would resolve the claims of not only the institutional investors who reached the settlement with the trustee, but also potential claims of other investors in the trusts.  Thus, Article 77 essentially provides a means of creating a global settlement of all investor’s claims, without allowing the opportunity to opt out, which would have been available if the agreement had been presented as a proposed class action settlement. 

Frankel has done an excellent job of summarizing the issues in the case as well as today’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision holding that the federal courts lack jurisdiction over the case under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) as a result of the securities exception in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(9)(C) and 1453(d)(3), so I won’t re-summarize the article here but simply commend it to your reading.  The case is BlackRock Fin. Mgmt. Inc. v. The Segregated Account of Ambac Assur. Corp., 11-5309-cv(L), (2d Cir., Feb. 27, 2012).

Although the use of Article 77 to create a binding settlement that does not require an opportunity to opt out may be a novel strategy, the case highlights an often-overlooked option that may be available in any class action litigation involving a trust, benefits plan, or other fund with a custodian or trustee.  This would include certain banking and securities cases or class actions filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) against a party other than the trustee.  Rather than having to negotiate with class action lawyers, it may be possible in these contexts to come to a global resolution of a dispute by negotiating with the trustee and then seeking court approval of that agreement.  Even if a class action is pending, resolution of the dispute with the trustee may provide grounds to defeat class certification on superiority grounds, since a settlement with a party having a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiaries of the fund can be an adequate and significantly more efficient means of resolving any dispute.

Read Full Post »

This is the fourth in a multi-part post summarizing last week’s 5th Annual Conference on the Globalization of Class Actions and Mass Litigation.  Click these links to see the summaries for Session 1, Session 2, and Session 3

Giving Away Money: Calculating Damages & Allocating Damages

Professor Francis McGovern, Duke University Law School chaired this panel of authorities on the management of compensation funds.  A pioneer in the development of mass compensation programs, Professor McGovern has assisted with the administration of similar mass tort settlements in the United States, as well as reparations involving international disputes, such as the United Nations Compensation Commission, through which he is currently assisting in developing a framework for handling approximately 2.6 million reparations claims against Iraq.

Professor Jasminka Kalajdzic, University of Windsor, Canada, presented the case study and offered her insights into practical aspects of the case study.   The case study focused on a $1.9 billion fund for victims of abuse within the notorious Canadian Indian Residential Schools (IRS) program, in which aboriginal children were forced to attend Christian schools in an effort to force assimilation into white culture.  The purposes of the program had been described as “killing the Indian in the child” and turning native populations into English-speaking farmers and Christians.  The children were forced to attend the schools were subjected to harsh corporal punishment, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.  By the early 2000s more than 50,000 individual claims and a number of class actions had been filed by victims of the IRS programs.  In 2005, following an alternative dispute resolution process, the Canadian government set up a $1.9 billion fund to compensate victims.  Compensation schedules established monetary award amounts based on a variety of factors, such as the amount of time spent in the schools, and the number of specific instances and types of abuse that a claimant had been subjected to.

Each of the panelists had been responsible for administering compensation funds, but the funds themselves had a variety of sources and purposes.

Dr. Norbert Wühler, Director of Reparations Programmes, International Organization for Migration, directs international claims facilities that provide reparations or other compensation arising out of international conflicts.  They include the Iranian Claims Tribunal, which provides compensation to U.S. citizens and companies who were harmed or displaced from Iran following the revolution of the late 1970s, and a program to compensate victims of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in the early 1990s.

Mr. Pieter van Regteren Altena, Partner, Van Doorne NV, administered the DES fund in the Netherlands, a fund established as a result of a mass tort settlement of claims against the pharmaceutical companies who manufactured DES, a synthetic hormone given to pregnant women prior to the late 1970s.  A collective settlement of DES claims was approved in 2006, resulting in the establishment of a 38 million Euro fund for the benefit of people who suffered adverse consequences from the use of DES, such as infertility, cancer, and birth defects.

The final panelist, and also the Keynote Speaker at the dinner held later that evening, was Kenneth Feinberg, who has been charged with administering some of the most high-profile compensation funds in history.  They include the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund established by Congress in 2001, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility established by BP following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and a settlement fund arising out of claims by victims of the use of the compound Agent Orange during the Vietnam war.

Professor McGovern opened the discussion with the observation that what all of the panelists had attempted to do in administering monetary funds was “rough justice.”  He then led a discussion on the similarities and differences between different compensation programs and the various issues and themes that can arise in the process of administering compensation funds.

Several of the obvious ways that compensation programs can differ are the source of the assets to be distributed and the sources of authority for the distribution and management of the compensation fund.  In a mass tort case, such as the DES case in the Netherlands or the Agent Orange case in the United States, the source of funding is a corporate defendant, but the source of authority for the settlement is a court.  In many international disputes, the source of authority can be an international tribunal, the United Nations, or a treaty among nations, and the source of funding can differ significantly from case to case.  For example, in the Iranian Claims Tribunal, the source of funding was frozen Iranian assets from outside Iran.  In the case of the fund established for victims of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the funds came out of a percentage of oil sales that were permitted as an exception to a trade embargo.  Other funds have had sources of authority and funding that are unlikely to be repeated again in the future, including the 9/11 fund, which was established and funded by Congress only weeks after the terrorist attacks occurred, and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which was established and funded voluntarily by BP following what was essentially a handshake agreement with President Obama.

The structure of a compensation program is dependent on a number of factors.  Feinberg and Wühler both made the point that the volume of claims has a large impact on the structure of the compensation scheme.  In the Iranian Claims Tribunal, there were only 2700 claims, so individual claims could be handled more like a commercial arbitration, whereas with the reparations from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, there were many more claims, so the structure had to have a very different composition.  In the case of the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund, the task of determining individual recoveries was handled mainly by accountants, whereas in the case of BP, distribution of benefits also required the work of claims adjusters.

Organizational systems for compensation funds are also influenced by other factors.  The need to prove causation is a factor.  For example, in the DES case, one of the main issues in determining who should receive compensation was the causal link between the drug and adverse health consequences suffered by the individual.  There, van Regteren Altena explained, the fund administrators fell back to the law of evidence, and an individual assessment procedure was implemented.  By contrast, Feinberg explained that in the Gulf Coast Claims fund, the level of evidence needed to prove an adverse impact resulting from the oil spill differed depending on how far removed the claimant was located geographically from the site of the spill.

The issue of causation highlights a common difficulty in administering settlement programs.  That is, the problem of efficiently distributing the funds while maintaining a sense of fairness and proportionality among individual claimants.  As Feinberg pointed out, although the goal of the program may be “rough justice,” there is a big tension between rough justice and individual compensation in any settlement program.  Success in a compensation program requires the administrator to walk a fine line between the efficient and speedy distribution of limited resources and paying enough attention to individual claims so that the claimants as a whole perceive the settlement as fair.  To achieve this goal, allowing claimants an opportunity to be heard makes an enormous difference.  Many of the structures described by the panelists had multiple levels of individual assessment.  For example, in the IRS settlement, claimants were paid according to a schedule but also had the opportunity to request an individual hearing.  Many mass tort settlements, such as the DES settlement, allow individual members to opt out and pursue their own claims individually.  Where individual hearings are impractical due to the number of claims, providing claimants with different options can help resolve the tension.

As a final thought, I would add a personal note that although many of the programs discussed during the presentation involved unique situations that most of us as practitioners are never likely to encounter, the themes and concepts discussed by the panelists are likely to be applicable in fashioning a wide variety of class action and mass tort settlements.  I have been involved with several not-so-high profile class action settlements that involve many of the issues and tensions discussed during the program.  So, as a practitioner, a key question from the Q&A portion of the program that piqued my interested was whether there are any resources or guides available to assist with the development or implementation of compensation funds.  Several of the panelists pointed to a comprehensive guide published by the Center for Public Resources, the Master Guide to Mass Claims Resolution Facilities.

Read Full Post »

As I have noted in a series of posts recently, class action settlement objectors should not be taken lightly.  (See this August 1, 2011 post and others cited within).  Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals offered an excellent case in point in its decision in In re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation, No. 05-5943-cv(L) (2d Cir., Aug. 17, 2011), in which a two-judge majority sided with ten objectors in vacating the approval of a class action settlement involving copyright infringement claims by freelance authors against various publishers who provide content in online databases.   Based in part on principles limiting settlement class certification that were recognized in two well-known Supreme Court opinions from the late 1990s, Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 620 (1997) and Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815 (1999), the court held that the interests of various subclasses within a proposed settlement class had interests that were too divergent to be adequately represented by a single group of class representatives and class counsel.  Andrew Trask has a good summary and some insightful commentary about the decision and its potential future impact on his blog, Class Action Countermeasures.  Alison Frankel offers additional perspective in her column for Thompson Reuters, On the Case.

Read Full Post »

United States District Court Judge Janet C. Hall issued an order today rejecting the proposed settlement in Wilson v. DirectBuy, Inc., No. 3:09-CV-590 (JCH) (D. Conn. May 16, 2011) (Here is a link to the slip opinion).  The controversial settlement had been opposed by 39 attorneys general, a nonprofit consumer rights organization, and had been singled out by commentators for criticism as a model for class action abuse. 

Judge Hall’s order found fault with many aspects of the settlement, including both the proposed settlement’s procedural and substantive fairness.  Procedurally, Judge Hall was concerned with the nascent stage of the record at the time of the settlement and the lack of discovery performed before the settlement.  Among the court’s substantive concerns were that the in-kind benefits provided under the agreement were similar to a coupon settlement, that the parties had overstated the risks to class members of litigating the case to trial, and that the maximum value of the settlement was too low in comparison to the best possible recovery in order for the settlement to be within the range of reasonableness. 

The court’s opinion expressly does not rule on, although it does discuss, several of the other issues raised by objectors, including the sufficiency of the email notice given to class members and an order by the magistrate judge enjoining a similar lawsuit filed by the State of West Virginia.

It is important to note that the court’s opinion does not at all portend a win for the class at trial.  In fact, pointing to the potential for statewide class actions under individual state consumer protection laws and enforcement actions by individual state attorneys’ general:

[t]he court notes that these state consumer protection statutes may not be suitable for litigation on a nationwide class action basis. . . . However, it appears to the court that they may be well suited for statewide class actions, especially within the states with broadly written consumer protection statutes.  This attempt is already being made in California and Missouri. . . . Further, investigations by state attorneys general are under way in at least a couple states, and, in some states, consumer protection actions can be brought on behalf of consumers. . . .

Therefore, in light of these statutes and the evidence that public and private attorneys are prepared to enforce them, class members appear to have substantially stronger claims than the RICO claims alleged in this case. Because the parties seek to release these state claims via the Settlement Agreement, the strength of these claims must be accounted for in this court’s analysis of the fairness, adequacy, and reasonableness of the Agreement. . . .

Slip op. at 26 (internal citations omitted).

Read Full Post »

Recently, I have commented on two types of objectors in class action settlements.  This March 31 entry discusses the problem of so-called “professional” objectors.  And this April 12 entry addresses objections raised by government officials.  There is at least one other type of organized objectors to class action settlements: public interest organizations.  (I use the term “organized objectors” to distinguish these types of objections from objections that may be sent in by individual class members who are not represented by separate counsel).  Mechanically, objections by public interest organizations may be accomplished in a manner similar to that used by professional objectors: through the representation of one or more settlement class members by lawyers employed by or cooperating with the organization.  However, unlike with professional objectors lawyers, the representation is usually pro bono.  Alternatively. as with objections by government officials, public interest objections to a settlement may be accomplished through amicus briefs to the court.

There are a variety of public interest organizations that file objections to proposed class action settlements.  These organizations have widely differing purposes and political agendas.  For example, the Center for Class Action Fairness (CCAF) was founded by attorney and leading tort and class action reform advocate (and contributor to the popular law blog, Overlawyered), Ted Frank.  CCAF is a nonprofit organization formed for the stated purpose of providing “pro bono representation to consumers and shareholders aggrieved by class action attorneys who negotiate settlements that benefit themselves at the expense of their putative clients.”  In this April 18, 2011 press release, Frank summarizes various cases in which his organization successfully objected to class action settlements that “will result in class members receiving over $5 million more than what their class attorneys were willing to negotiate.” 

At the other end of the political spectrum (at least from the perspective of tort reform) from CCAF, is Public Justice, an organization founded by leading trial lawyers that describes itself as “America’s public interest law firm.”  A stated objective of Public Justice is to fight interests aimed at “closing the courthouse doors so victims can’t hold the powerful accountable,” including fighting “class action bans and abuses.”  Like CCAF, Public Justice has successfully objected to or intervened in a variety of class action settlements.  Some of its work in this area is summarized in the article “Fighting Class Action Abuse,” which is available on its website.

A third organization, Public Citizen, is a consumer advocacy group that has the stated goal of preserving the right of consumers to seek relief through class actions.  However, according to its website, “[a]t the same time, we recognize that on occasion class action settlements may not be in the interest of all class members, and in such cases we have often represented class members in objecting to and seeking to improve the terms of such settlements.”

Although the political motivations of these organizations might be different, there are several key similarities between these groups.  First, their interest in objecting to a settlement is based on a sincerely held belief that their involvement is necessary to protect the public interest.  This means that they are not motivated by profit, but rather by a conviction that the settlement (or the system itself) is unfair.  Like government objectors, their goal is to gain disapproval of or modification to the settlement, not to extort a portion of the fee.

Second, regardless of the ultimate motivating philosophy, even public interest groups with drastically different political agendas can find the same kinds of settlements or settlement terms objectionable.  Not surprisingly, many of their objections are the same as those that a government official might make.  Coupon settlements are a natural target.  A conservative group formed to combat class action abuse might object to a coupon settlement because the fact that a coupon settlement was the best the plaintiffs’ could do for the putative class reflects that he case was a frivolous, lawyer-driven case that had no societal value in the first place.  A consumer advocacy group might object to the same settlement because of a perception that it is unfair for a defendant to profit from its own wrongdoing.  Where both groups might agree is that the court should not approve a settlement that includes little or no benefit to class members and a large payout to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

One area in which right-leaning and left-leaning public interest groups may diverge is in their view of cy pres provisions in class action settlements, that is, distribution of any unclaimed funds to a charity.  Class action reform advocates object to cy pres distributions because they don’t benefit the members of the class, and are sometimes simply a tool used by trial lawyers to raise funds for their own pet causes.  Trial lawyers in turn, argue that cy pres is the best way to deal with unclaimed funds, because the alternative would be to let the money revert back to the defendant, which would allow the defendant to profit from its wrongdoing.  (Although I want to stay neutral, as a defense lawyer, I am compelled to point out that the fallacy in this reasoning is the class action settlement context, the defendant hasn’t been found to have done anything wrong.  Rather it has voluntarily agreed to provide some compensation in exchange for peace from further litigation).

As with objections by government actors, objections to class action settlements by public interest groups are rare, but they present a significant risk to approval of a settlement if they do occur.   There are a variety of steps that counsel can make to avoid these types of objections, including:

  • Ensure that the settlement notice is in plain English, understandable, and contains all information required by Rule 23(c)(2)(B).  The Federal Judicial Center guidelines for plain English notice provide an excellent template, but the template obviously must be tailored to each case in order to provide effective notice.  Hiring a qualified notice expert (not simply a settlement administrator) to help draft the notice and testify about the fairness of the notice plan can protect against possible objections to the fairness of the notice.
  • Make sure that the notice is delivered in a way that makes it truly the best notice practicable.  Intentionally using a method of notice that is unlikely to be read and appreciated by class members, in the hopes of reducing the response rate, is folly.  If you don’t do everything reasonable possible to give class members adequate notice of a settlement, you risk having the entire settlement disapproved after you have incurred the significant notice costs. In many cases, direct mail is still considered the best way of distributing notice.  Technology has made direct mail possible even in cases where the last known addresses of class members are a few years old.  Old addresses can be updated through the post office change of address system, as well as through various private databases.  Again, having a qualified notice expert can help.  If it is truly impossible to reach a sufficient number of class members through direct mail, then a published notice can be used as a supplement, but it is better to think of published notice as a last resort. 
  • Avoid settlement terms or arguments that exaggerate the true value of a benefit to be given to the class.  A settlement does not have to give class members 100% of the claimed damages in order to be fair.  It is, after all, the result of a compromise.  However, exaggerating the value of benefits, especially non-monetary benefits, is one of the surest ways to draw objections and skepticism from the Court.
  • Avoid unnecessary publicity.  Unnecessary publicity (by either the plaintiffs or the defendant) raises the risk that public interest groups will scrutinize it.  This is another reason to use direct mail when possible. 
  • If the settlement does include a cy pres component, try to find an organization that is likely to benefit some or all of the class members directly.  Distribution to any organization in which one of the lawyers has a personal affiliation or stake will raise a red flag.  Donations to a victim’s assistance fund, for example, are less likely to receive scrutiny than a donation to a lawyer’s law school.
  • In any settlement that may include unclaimed funds (whether those funds revert to the defendant, are distributed pro rata to other class members, or are distributed to a charity),  above all else, do whatever you can to ensure that class members have a fair opportunity to participate in the settlement.  You often can’t force class members to claim benefits, but you do have the power to make sure that there are no artificial barriers to participation.

Read Full Post »

Legal commentator and unabashed crusader for class action reform, Lawrence W. Schonbrun, has a new article on The Huffington Post discussing so-called “professional” objectors in class action lawsuits.  Schonbrun criticizes what he believes is hypocrisy in plaintiffs’ class action lawyers attempting to vilify those who seek to object to class action settlements for profit because, in his view, many class actions themselves are simply vehicles for lawyers’ profit with no other social utility.  Whether you agree with his perspective, Schonbrun’s commentaries are always thought-provoking, and this piece is no exception.

I will leave it to Schonbrun and others to comment on the social value of professional objectors or class actions more generally.  As a defense practitioner, my concern is with the potential practical impact on my clients’ cases.  From a practical perspective, it is important to note that what most practitioners would consider “professional” objectors does not include nonprofit associations and lawyers whose motivation is based on a genuine belief that the settlement is unfair to consumers or that class actions should be reformed.  Nor would it include a lawyer who was retained by a client because of the client’s bona fide objection to the fairness of the settlement.  While it is possible that the motivations of a particular objector’s counsel could be mixed or unclear, most practitioners would agree that the term “professional objector” is susceptible to the same “I know it when  I see it” standard as Justice Potter Stewart’s  standard for identifying obscenity.

There is no doubt that there exists several cottage industries of entrepreneurial lawyers who have found creative ways to profit from class actions filed by other lawyers and their clients.  Professional objectors are but one of at least three groups of what many traditional plaintiffs’ attorneys would consider interlopers who seek to make a cheap buck off of someone else’s class action:

1) “Copy cat” lawyers, who file competing lawsuits in other jurisdictions

2) “Opt out” lawyers, who round up individuals to opt out of class action settlements in order to file mass actions raising the same claims

3) “Professional objectors,” attorneys who solicit members of a class in order to raise objections to a class settlement, in the hopes of being able to extract a portion of the fee or to take over as class counsel. 

From my perspective, the influence of these groups, at least in the consumer class action context, has waned over the past decade.  Five or ten years ago, it was common to expect one or more objections to a large class action settlement filed by attorneys who had an obvious track record of objecting to class actions (and no obvious political or charitable agenda).  Back then, many plaintiffs’ lawyers would simply agree to pay a small portion of the fee to the objector’s lawyer, rather than have the entire settlement held up for months or years while the objectors exhausted their appeals.  These days, by contrast, there are a variety of techniques that have been successful in  reducing the number of objections motivated purely by an outside lawyer’s attempt to profit from the settlement.  The most significant tool has been to file a motion to require the objector or his attorney to post a significant bond, measured by a percentage of the value of the settlement, pending any appeal of the denial of an objection.

The problem of dealing with professional objectors is customarily the role of plaintiffs’ counsel, although after having agreed to a settlement, the defendant has nearly as much of an incentive to overcome objections as the plaintiffs’ lawyers do.  There are several key preventative measures that both parties to a class action settlement can take to ward off professional objectors (or any objectors, for that matter), including:

  • Avoiding the appearance of collusion.  This problem is usually avoided if the settlement is reached after an otherwise contested litigation, but can be a problem if the parties reach a settlement shortly after the complaint has been filed.  In most cases, experienced plaintiffs’ counsel will insist on at least performing some confirmatory discovery before agreeing to a settlement in the first place.
  • Retaining a qualified notice expert to ensure that the notice program follows current best practices and to opine, if necessary, about the fairness, reach, and reasonableness of the settlement notice.  This is important because the most persuasive arguments that can be made by an objector is not that the settlement value is unfair (after all, the settlement is the result of a compromise between the parties) but rather it was procedurally unfair because it did not provide potential claimants with reasonable notice.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, Cornerstone Research published its annual report titled Securities Class Action Settlements–2010 Review and Analysis.  Among the findings in this year’s report:

  • The number of approved securities class action settlements was at a 10-year low
  • The total dollar value of settlements decreased 17% from 2009 to 2010,
  • The median settlement amount was up 40%, but the average settlement was down slightly, reportedly a result of a decline in “very large” settlements.
  • The percentage of settled cases with a related SEC settlement was up to 30% in 2010 as compared to 20% in 2009.
  • The participation of institutional investors in class actions continued to increase, continuing a trend since the passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act in 1995.
  • Settlements of cases involving alleged violations of generally accepted accounting principles were up over 2009.

The report on settlements follows a similar report on securities class action filings, published in January.  Both reports are worth a close read.

The links above are to the Cornerstone summaries of the reports.  The reports themselves are available for download here.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »