August 27, 2003 by Canadian Underwriter
In 2002 and the first seven months of 2003, settlements in U.S. securities litigation have continued to rise, according to a new study by PriceWaterhouse Coopers.
For the first seven months of 2003, settlements reached US$1.5 billion, on 60 settlements. Average settlement of these cases was US$25.1 million each, although several were over US$50 million.
Last year, 107 settlements resulted in total payouts of US$2.1 billion. And the average cost of each, at US$19.9 million, was up 12% over 2001.
However, the rate of securities lawsuits filed dropped 21% in the first seven months of 2003. While 2002 saw a total of 217 suits filed, the first seven months of 2003 saw 111 shareholder suits. And Fortune 500 companies fared better this year, with just 12 facing suits thus far, versus 60 last year.
And suits are increasingly being aimed at pharmaceutical and health services companies, whereas the telecom and utilities/energy/oil & gas sectors were more common targets previously.
One of the most alarming trends of 2002 for corporations was a 200% increase over 2001 in the number of lawsuits involving a Department of Justice investigation or federal indictment. Last year, one-in-five shareholder suits involved such allegations of criminal activity.