Though the number of securities class action lawsuit settlement approvals reached a 14-year low in 2012, aggregate and average settlement amounts increased compared to 2011, according to the annual securities suit settlement report of Cornerstone Research. The report, which is entitled “Securities Class Action Settlements: 2012 Review and Analysis,” can be found here. Cornerstone Research’s March 20, 2013 press release regarding the report can be found here. A one-page infographic of the report’s findings can be found here.


According to the report, courts approved 53 securities class action lawsuit settlements in 2012, compared to 65 in 2011 (itself a very low year) and compared to a 2002-2011 average of 98 settlement approvals per year. The report suggests that the low number of settlement approvals in 2012 may be due to the relatively low number of securities class actions filed in 2009 and 2010.


Though the number of settlement approvals was down in 2012, the aggregate amount of settlement approvals was up substantially compared to 2011. The total amount of all settlements exceeded $2.9 billion dollars in 2012, compared to about $1.4 billion in 2011. Mega-settlements (those involving settlement amounts of over $100 million) accounted for more than 75% of the 2012 settlement amounts.


The average reported settlement amount dramatically increased from 2011 levels—in excess of 150 percent (from the inflation-adjusted amount of $21.6 million in 2011 to $54.7 million in 2012). The median settlement amount increased more than 70 percent in 2012, from $5.9 million last year to $10.2 million.