Securities Class Action Filings Decline

Securities class action filings declined by 22.3 percent in the first half of 2009 amid continuing litigation against financial services firms. According to the mid-year report from Stanford Law School and Cornerstone Research, a total of 87 federal securities class actions were filed in the first half of 2009, down from 112 filings in both halves of 2008. Only 35 filings were observed in the second quarter, the lowest quarterly total since the first quarter of 2007. Financial services firms are defendants in 66.7 percent of these filings, an increase over the 50 percent share of all filings in 2008. The report noted there were 15 filings related to Ponzi schemes so far in 2009, of which 11 filings were on behalf of investors in Madoff funds, with most suits targeting so-called feeder funds, hedge funds and others. A possible explanation for the decline in filings so far in 2009 may be the reduced stock market volatility, but fellow blogger Kevin LaCroix over at the D&O Diary suggests the decline may be more to do with the logjam facing plaintiffs’ lawyers overwhelmed with Madoff-related litigation and previously filed credit crisis cases. A new metric in the mid-year report measures the number of securities class action filings against defendant corporations headquartered outside the United States. It shows the number of lawsuits against foreign firms has been rising for more than a decade and reached 31 filings (13.8 percent of total filings) in 2008, with an average of 18 foreign firms (9.4 percent of total filings) sued in each year since 1997.

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