The following is an excerpt from a recently published ISS Securities Class Action Services white paper. Click here to download and read the full report.
For calendar year 2020, ISS Securities Class Action Services recorded 113 approved securities class action settlements within North America. Collectively, 2020 delivered $3.38 billion in settlement funds for distribution, an increase of 5.2% from the $3.21 million recovered in 2019. The top five recorded North American settlements from 2020 are:
- American Realty Capital Properties, Inc. – $1,025,000,000
- First Solar, Inc. – $350,000,000
- Signet Jewelers Ltd. – $240,000,000
- SCANA Corporation – $192,500,000
- Equifax Inc. – $149,000,000
In addition to the five large settlements noted above, 2020 recorded one of Canada’s top ten largest securities-related settlements of all-time. On 16 November 2020, investors and Valeant Pharmaceuticals resolved a Quebec-based class action for CAD $97,000,000. The separately filed, and highly publicized, U.S. class action against Valeant Pharmaceuticals in USDC New Jersey settled in early February 2021; this $1.21 billion class action will be included in next year’s report.
Of the 113 North American settlements in 2020, 107 cases had results with monetary shareholder recoveries. Fourteen of these settlements have already disbursed roughly $1.2 billion back to eligible claimants, a significant amount considering disbursements generally take 16-to-18 months from the claim deadline date to the disbursement date.
ISS SCAS’ analysis of these settlements identified Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd (Robins Geller) as the only plaintiff law firm to surpass the $1 billion threshold in 2020, while four other firms exceeded the $100 million mark. In comparison, last year’s Top 50 Report listed nine plaintiff law firms surpassing $100 million in settlements, but none close to the $1 billion mark. Robbins Geller ranks first among plaintiffs’ firms with $1,639,005,000 in total settlement funds during 2020, $1.025 billion of which was obtained from the largest 2020 settlement, American Realty Capital Properties, Inc. Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann (Bernstein Litowitz) ranks second amount plaintiff’s firms with $786,000,000 in total settlement funds, including $240 million of which was obtained from the Signet Jewelers Ltd. settlement. Of note, for eight straight years Bernstein Litowitz has finished in the top two, in various order, while Robbins Geller has finished in the top three, in various order.
Looking ahead, as of this report’s publication, $2.42 billion in settlement funds has thus far been announced in 2021 from 62 North American settlements. This includes the U.S. action against Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. for $1.21 billion and Snap, Inc. for $187.5 million. ISS SCAS will continue to monitor all class action activity as investors seek to resolve their complaints of wrongdoing with publicly traded companies.
By Jeff Lubitz, Executive Director, and Grace Meyer, Senior Associate, ISS Securities Class Action Services