U.S. companies shelled out $1.5 billion in the first seven months of this year to pay for securities litigation settlements, according to consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). Average settlement values for the 60 cases equaled $25.1 million, which included a number of extremely large settlements of more than $50 million. Total value of the 107 settlements in 2002 was more than $2.1 billion, with an average settlement of $19.9 million per case, which was up 12% from the average settlement in 2001 and up 40% from the average settlement values for the years 1996 through 2000. Although the rate of securities litigation filings declined 21% from the same seven-month period in 2002, PWC notes that the number of settlements of more than $10 million remains high. In 2002, 40 settlements hit that mark. In 2003 (through July), 18 have. The report, "The 2002 Securities Litigation Study," is available online at www.10b5.com.