Cornerstone Releases 2010 Securities Litigation Study

As a result of a spike in second half filings, the number of new securities class action lawsuits increased slightly in 2010 compared to the year before, although the 2010 filing levels remained below historical averages, according to the annual study released jointly by Cornerstone Research and the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse. This year's version of the study, entitled "Securities Class Action Filings: 2010 Year in Review," introduces some innovations that provide some interesting perspectives on securities class action lawsuit filings.

The study can be found here, and the joint January 20, 2011 press release about the study can be found here.

According to the study, there were 176 securities class action lawsuit filings in 2010, up 4.8% from 2009, but 9.7% below the 1997-2009 average number of filings (195). The increased number of filings in 2010 was largely due to the increased filing activity in the second half of the year, when 104 new securities suits were filed (compared to only 72 in the first half).

A significant factor in the increased number of 2010 filings was the number of lawsuits related to merger and acquisition transactions. According to the report, there were 40 filings with allegations related to M&A transactions, which represents a 471 percen increase from the seven M&A-related filings in 2009.

This increase in M&A-related litigation cannot be explained simply as reflection of increased M&A activity, since M&A activity increased only 20 percent in 2010. The increase, the report suggests "may be largely a result of changes in plaintiff law firm behavior rather than changes in underlying market forces." The press release quotes Stanford Law Professor Joseph Grundfest as saying that "plaintiffs lawyers are scrambling for new business as traditional fraud cases seem to be on the decline," adding that "there is little reason to believe that this trend will reverse or slow down."

Read the article in its entirety at the D&O Diary, a blog by Kevin LaCroix.