It was an up and down year for securities class action cases in 2007. The number of such cases settled last year rose 21% to 111, but the total value of the settlements dived 60% to $7 billion in 2007, according to Cornerstone Research. That dive is due in large part to the fact that 2006 recorded an all time high in total settlements of $17.2 billion, bolstered largely by the $7.2 billion Enron case settlement.
The median settlement reached $9 million in 2007, a spike over the previous year driven by an increase of midrange settlements, those of $10 million to $20 million. In 2007, midrange settlements accounted for nearly 25% of the total number of settlements, compared with just over 10% of the total in the prior year.
Other data from Cornerstone Research show:
• Tyco was the only settlement approved in 2007 to exceed $1 billion.
• Nine settlements in 2007 exceeded $100 million, compared with 14 in 2006.
• The $3.2 billion Tyco International settlement accounted for nearly 45% of the total value of settlements approved in 2007.
Stanford Law School Professor Joseph Grundfest says the aggregate dollar value of settlements is likely to drop sharply over the next few years because the inventory of large cases in the pipeline just isnt there. Grundfest is director of the Securities Action Clearinghouse, sponsored in cooperation with Cornerstone Research. He adds "The interesting open question is whether the subprime crisis will cause an uptick in securities fraud settlement activity that might, given settlement cycles in the litigation industry, only become apparent three to five years from now.