Most of the cases filed in the subprime and credit crisis-related litigation wave are still in their earliest stages, but as the early returns have trickled in, one recurring question as been how the cases are faring. More than once (refer here for example) I have questioned whether the plaintiffs are doing poorly in dismissal motions in these cases, although more recently plaintiffs do seem to have been doing a little better (refer here and here).


My analysis of the plaintiffs’ success levels has been rather subjective and impressionistic. As an alternative to this unscientific approach, blogger Cliff Shnier on his eponymous blog (here) has applied more arithmetic rigor to the analysis and reached the conclusion that plaintiffs are in fact doing better on dismissal motions in recent months.


Using the data from The D&O Diary’s running tally of credit crisis securities lawsuit dismissal motion rulings, which can be accessed here, and applying the methodology similar to that used by blackjack players to count cards, Shnier has performed a quantitative analysis of the trend in credit crisis cases securities lawsuit dismissal motion rulings.


In order to perform the analysis, Shnier assigned a numeric value to each dismissal motion outcome, ranging from a score of minus one for a dismissal with prejudice to a score of plus one for a denial of a motion to dismiss, with intermediate values assigned for inconclusive outcomes such as dismissals without prejudice. Shnier then arrived at a running count by adding together all of the scores, and plotting the running count on a graph showing how the aggregate score has varied over time.


The resulting graph, shown on the left (a more legible image is linked on Shnier’s blog) shows that beginning in November 2007 and for the following twelve months “the running count started out in the negative numbers,” which is “favorable to defendants.” But the trendline crossed into positive numbers – more favorable to plaintiffs – and has stayed there ever since December 2008. Schnier’s conclusion? The “trendline is moving upward in favor of dismissals being denied.”


Shnier concedes that the outcome of this exercise may reflect the values he has assigned to various outcomes, particularly dismissals without prejudice. But even if more conservative values are assigned to these determinations, the trendline is still favorable to the plaintiffs.


There are of course many ways to analyze a range of case outcomes, and a numerical analysis is just one approach. And in any event, these cases are still mostly in their early stages, so any analysis at this point may be premature. Nevertheless, Schnier’s blackjack counting approach is interesting, and is certainly different, and it may have advantages over more subjective or impressionsitc approaches to the question. It will be interesting to continue to monitor Shnier’s analysis as the credit crisis-related securities cases continue to develop. 


The Infamous “Suzanne Researched This” Commercial (Circa 2006): How a lot of people wound up with more debt than they could afford and living in a house that is too big and beyond their means.


Clusterstock comments (here) that the “the commercial touts the fact that your Century 21 broker will team up with your browbeating wife and guilt you into buying the home you can’t afford. It must be watched. We still think it kind of might be a parody.”


If it is a parody, it is a perverse kind of unconscious self-parody. All I know is that the words “You guys can do this” were used far too frequently in that era.