According to the latest annual report from ISS Securities Class Action Services, there were four securities class action settlements in 2020 that were large enough to make the firm’s list of the Top 100 U.S. Securities Class Action settlements. These four settlements took place in a year in which there were a total of 99 approved monetary securities class action settlements totaling $3.26 billion The details of the settlements included the four largest can be found in the ISS SCAS report entitled “The Top 100 U.S. Class Action Settlements of All-Time,” here.
As noted, there were 99 approved monetary securities class action settlements in 2020 totaling $3.26 billion. The 2020 total represented a 3 percent increase over the $3.17 billion in 2019. Of the 99 settlements, 76 involved federal securities lawsuits amounting to $3.02 billion, and 23 involved state court securities lawsuits and totaling $229.7 million.
Four of the 2020 settlements were large enough to qualify for ISS SCAS’s list of the Top 100 securities class action lawsuit settlements of all time: 1. American Realty Capital Properties Inc. $1.025 billion, which qualified as the fourteenth largest settlement of all time; 2. First Solar, $350 million (about which refer here), which came in as 48th largest of all time; 3. Signet Jewelers, $240 million (about which refer here), 73rd largest of all time; and 4. SCANA Corporation, $192.5 million, 93rd largest of all time.
All of the four largest 2020 settlements involved complaints alleging violation of Rule 10b-5. The four largest settlements taken collectively total over $1.8 billion total, representing 55 of the total value of the 2020 securities class action lawsuit settlements.
With the addition of the American Realty Capital Properties to the Top 100 list, there are now a total of 15 securities class action lawsuit settlement over the $1 billion threshold. At the other end of the spectrum, in order for any future settlement to make the Top 100 list, it would have to exceed $173 million.
The top two of the four largest 2020 securities class action lawsuit settlements were led by the Robbins Geller law firm, and the next two were led by the Bernstein Litowitz law firm, with the Labaton Sucharow firm as co-lead counsel on the SCANA Corp. action.
In terms of the lead counsel most frequently represented on the Top 100 list, the top firms appearing as lead or co-lead counsel among the Top 100 settlements are: the Bernstein Litowitz law firm, with 38 settlements among the Top 100 totaling $26.3 billion; the Robbins Geller law firm, with 18 settlements among the Top 100, totaling $16.5 billion; the Labaton Sucharow law firm, with 13 settlements totaling $13.1 billion; and the Milberg law firm, with 13 settlements totaling $9.5 billion.
Among the Top 100 securities class action settlements, 92% had an institutional lead plaintiff. The top lead institutional investor plaintiff in terms of the number of settlements on the Top 100 list is the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, which was lead on eight settlements on the list, totaling $5.59 billion. The top lead institutional investor plaintiff in terms of the amount of settlement recoveries from among the top 100 settlements is the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which was lead plaintiff on five of the Top 100 representing a total of $11.2 billion in settlements.
Of the top 100 settlements, 39 have involved restatements, while 61 have not involved restatements. However, the restatement cases are among the very largest. Of the top 15 settlements on the list, 12 involved restatements, as well as 16 of the 20 largest. The American Realty Capital Properties settlement, which was the largest 2020 settlement and the 14th largest all-time, involved a restatement.
There have already been several significant settlements that appear positioned for court approval in 2021, including the $1.21 billion settlement regarding Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Snap, Inc.’s $187.5 million settlement.
My thanks to Jeff Lubitz of ISS Securities Class Action Services for sending me a link to the latest report.