Cornerstone Research and the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse have released a report on federal securities class action filings in 2008. The findings include:
(1) There were were 210 filings (through 12/15), a 19% increase over the previous year. As usual, Cornerstone reports a lower number of filings than NERA, presumably due to different counting methodologies.
(2) Almost half of the 2008 litigation activity, or 103 securities class actions, involved firms in the financial services sector. Indeed, nearly a third of all large financial firms were a named defendant in a filing.
(3) For the first time since 2002, companies listed on NYSE or Amex had more securities class action
filings than companies listed on NASDAQ (likely because of the plaintiffs’ focus on the financial sector).
(4) Among the resolved class actions filed since 1996, 41 percent were dismissed and 59 percent settled. The majority of cases were resolved after the first ruling on the motion to dismiss but before a ruling on summary judgments, with 71 percent of dismissals and 59 percent of settlements occurring during this stage.
Quote of note (Professor Grundfest): “The data suggests an intriguing possibility that the pool of major financial services defendants might be getting fished out.Many major financial services firms have already been sued and plaintiffs may be choosing to focus on filing amendments to existing complaints rather than initiating new ones. Litigation activity against the financial sector may decline next year because the supply of new defendants might be drying up, not necessarily because plaintiffs believe there is less fraud.”
The D&O Diary has an interesting analysis of the report and predicts another big year for filings in 2009.