Plaintiffs filed federal court securities class action lawsuits at  “near-record levels” during the first six months of 2019, according to a new report from Cornerstone Research. The July 31, 2019 report, entitled “Securities Class Action Filings: 2019 Midyear Assessment,” notes that the elevated filing levels continued in the year’s first half despite reduced numbers of merger objection lawsuit filings. In addition to the number of federal court filings, there were a significant number of state court securities suit filings, bringing overall filing levels close to all-time highs. The new report can be found here. Cornerstone Research’s July 31, 2019 press release about the report can be found here. My own analysis of the first half filings can be found here.
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One of the things that happened both in the lead up to and in the wake of the October 2018 legalization of cannabis-based products in Canada is that a number of Canada-based cannabis companies listed their shares on U.S. securities exchanges. From the outset, D&O insurers have regarded the cannabis companies as a distinct risk and as a tough class of business. Earlier on, there were relatively few claims to substantiate these concerns. However, there have now been a number of securities class action lawsuits filed against U.S.-listed Canadian companies, with the latest lawsuit filed just this week.
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During the first six months of 2019, federal court securities class action lawsuit filings remained well above historical levels and roughly on pace with the elevated filing levels in 2018. The number of federal court securities suit filings was significantly increased by the number of federal court merger objection lawsuit filings; however, even disregarding the merger objection lawsuit filings, the number of new lawsuits remains well above historical averages. The total securities suit filings during the years first six months were even further raised by significant numbers of state court securities class action lawsuit filings, as well.
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Priya Cherian Huskins

In a recent post, I took a look at the rise in the number of state court securities class action lawsuits that have been filed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Cyan case. In the following guest post, Priya Cherian Huskins of Woodruff Sawyer & Co. takes a deeper look at the state court securities class action data to assess the extent of the threat of state court securities class action litigation relating to follow-on offerings. A version of this article was previously published in Woodruff-Sawyer’s D&O Notebook.  I would like to thank Priya for her willingness to allow me to publish her article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Priya’s article.
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Regular readers of this blog know that the statistics surrounding U.S. securities litigation in recent years are nothing short of alarming, including, for example, both record numbers of lawsuits and record percentages of listed companies sued. Severity trends are concerning as well. All of these trends are exacerbated by the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Cyan decision, which opens companies conducting securities offerings to multiple, conflicting lawsuits in state and federal court. Given these trends, it is hardly surprising that there have been renewed calls from business groups for securities class action litigation reform. Now, Chubb, a leading global insurer, has added its voice to the calls for reform. In an interesting June 11, 2019 paper entitled “From Nuisance to Menace: The Rising Tide of Securities Class Action Litigation” (here), the company details the extent of the current securities litigation mess and sets forth a number of proposals for securities litigation reform. 
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One of the most significant phenomena in the world of corporate and securities litigation has been the rise of merger objection litigation. As has been well-documented, merger objection litigation reached the point in recent years that virtually every public company merger transaction drew at least one lawsuit. The circumstances surrounding merger objection litigation began to change after the Delaware courts evinced their displeasure with this kind of litigation in a series of rulings that culminated in the 2016 decision in Trulia, in which the court rejected the kind of disclosure only settlement that had characterized the resolution of these kinds of cases. Since then, the merger objection lawsuits have shifted to federal courts. Moreover, these cases, now in federal court, increasingly are not settled; rather, they are dismissed in exchange for the defendants’ willingness to pay the plaintiffs’ counsel a so-called “mootness fee.”

In a May 29, 2019 paper entitled “Mootness Fees” (here), Matthew Cain and Steven Davidoff Solomon of UC Berkley Law School, Jill Fisch of Penn Law School, and Randall Thomas of Vanderbilt Law School take a look at the recent rise of mootness fee dismissals in merger objection litigation. Their paper documents that the rise of mootness fee settlements has turned merger objection litigation into a process for a small number of lower tier plaintiffs’ firms to in effect extract a toll from companies involved in M&A transactions, largely without court scrutiny or even minimal disclosure requirements. The authors suggest a number of procedural mechanisms to try to provide some scrutiny  and transparency over these kinds of settlements.
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Over the course of the past few weeks, very substantial settlements were announced in two separate securities class action lawsuits, one involving the giant Internet company Alibaba and one involving the auto manufacturing company Fiat Chrysler. Given the size of these settlements, they are interesting in and of themselves. However, the settlements are interesting, separately and together, for several other reasons, among other things for the fact that both involve companies organized and based outside the U.S. but with securities trading on a U.S. exchange. Each of these settlements is described below, and a discussion of the settlements’ significance follows.
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I frequently received requests or questions relating to the increased risk of securities litigation that life sciences companies face. I have reviewed these issues in my own analysis of securities litigation filing trends (for example, refer here) as well as in my discussion of others’ analyses (for example, here). In another recent report, the Sidley Austin law firm has taken a detailed look at important securities litigation developments in 2018 relating to life sciences companies. This latest report includes not only a review of life sciences companies’ securities litigation class action filings trends but also takes a look at the life sciences companies’ track record in the courts, on motions to dismiss in the district courts and on appeal. The court ruling analysis suggests a number of important implications for life sciences companies’ disclosure practices. The law firm’s report, entitled “Securities Class Actions in the Life Sciences Sector: 2018 Annual Survey” can be found here. The law firm’s two-page report summary can be found here.
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The number of workplace discrimination charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during Fiscal Year 2018 (which ended September 30, 2018) declined to the lowest level since FY 2006, according the EEOC’s recent statistical release. But while the  number of charges overall are down, the number of sexual harassment charges increased, as did the number of sexual harassment lawsuits the agency filed. The increase in sexual harassment actions seems to suggest a greater awareness of these issues in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The EEOC’s enforcement and litigation statistics can be found here. The EEOC’s April 10, 2019 press release about the 2018 FY statistics can be found here.
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