With the coronavirus continuing to alter how people work, socialize, and live their day-to-day lives, U.S. Federal and State courts have shown great success in keeping the wheels of justice moving by holding a majority of critical hearings remotely, often via Zoom.
While the quantity of newly filed class action complaints against publicly traded companies has markedly declined during the past 12 months, the number (and dollar amount) of settlements is showing no signs of a letdown. In fact, there are 60 actions in 2021 approved or awaiting a scheduled court hearing for a Federal or State judge to validate an agreed-upon tentative settlement.
Leading the way in 2021 is the $1.21 Valeant Pharmaceuticals International settlement. While investors and the company agreed to resolve the class action early last year, the case was not legally settled until signed-off on February 1st by USDC New Jersey Judge Michael A. Shipp. In statistics managed by ISS Securities Class Action Services, this case is now officially the ninth largest U.S. settlement of all-time. Two additional interesting points related to Valeant… 1) the firm’s auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, remains a defendant in the complaint filed by investors; and 2) the firm settled a similar action late last year with Canadian shareholders in Quebec Superior Court for CAD $94 Million.
To date, here are the top ten 2021 class action settlements:
|Company||Settlement Amount||Settlement Hearing Date||Court Venue|
|Valeant Pharmaceuticals||$1.21 Billion||February 1, 2021||USDC New Jersey|
|Snap, Inc.||$187.5 Million*||February 22, 2021||USDC California (Central) California Superior Court|
|DaVita, Inc.||$135 Million||March 30, 2021||USDC Colorado|
|The Southern Company||$87.5 Million||February 5, 2021||USDC Georgia (Northern)|
|MetLife, Inc.||$84 Million||April 14, 2021||USDC New York (Southern)|
|Towers Watson & Co.||$75 Million||May 21, 2021||USDC Virginia (Eastern)|
|Chemical & Mining Company of Chile||$62.5 Million||April 2, 2021||USDC New York (Southern)|
|Santander Consumer USA||$47 Million||January 12, 2021||USDC Texas (Northern)|
|Spectrum Brands||$39 Million||January 29, 2021||USDC Wisconsin (Western)|
|ADT, Inc.||$30 Million||January 8, 2021||Florida Circuit Court|
Securities related litigation outside the U.S. remains at a similar pace from previous years… settlements in Australia lead the way while actions in Europe and other parts of the world linger. Investors in these regions face challenging roadmaps and a lack of case law to assist in navigating a path to a settlement.
To date, investors in 2021 have had initial success in Australia as the following actions have settled:
- Vocation Ltd – AUD $50 Million
- Woolworths Ltd – AUD $44.5 Million (Tentative)
- Estia Health Ltd – AUD $37.75 Million (Tentative)
- Dick Smith Holdings Ltd – AUD $25 Million
ISS Securities Class Action Services will continue to share key industry statistics, including trends & developments, with its clients throughout the year.
By Jeff Lubitz, Executive Director, ISS Securities Class Action Services