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New York, NY—For the first time since 2016, fewer than 300 new US federal securities class action suits were filed. This is one of many significant findings identified in “Recent Trends in Securities Class Action Litigation: 2021 Full-Year Review,” the latest edition of an annual report released by NERA Economic Consulting. The decline in filings—from 321 in 2020 to 205 in 2021—was driven by an 85% decrease in the number of merger-objection suits last year.

Of the 239 cases resolved in 2021, 153 were dismissed and 86 resolved through a settlement. This is a decline in dismissed cases and total resolutions relative to 2020 and the lowest recorded level of total resolutions since 2015. Compared to 2020, there was an increase in both dismissed and settled non-merger-objection cases.

Highlights from the 2021 year-end report include:

  • In 2021, aggregate settlements amounted to $1.8 billion. This is $400 million lower than the $2.2 billion aggregate settlement amount in 2019, and considerably lower than the $3.1 billion and $5.2 billion in 2020 and 2018, respectively.
  • The average settlement value decreased by over 50% in 2021 to $21 million, the lowest recorded average in the last 10 years. The median settlement value was $8 million, the lowest recorded median value since 2017.
  • There were 20 securities class action cases filed with a COVID-19-related claim alleged in the complaint, a decrease from the 33 suits filed in 2020.
  • Over 10% of new federal filings were related to special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
  • Between January 2021 and December 2021, a total of 24 cases related to SPACs were filed, a substantial increase from the one case filed in 2020.
  • Of the new cases filed in 2021, over 30% were filed against defendants in the electronic technology and services sector and 40% were filed in the Second Circuit.
  • The aggregate plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and expenses associated with settled cases was $451 million for 2021.
  • The median NERA-Defined Investor Losses for cases settled in 2021 was $731 million, the highest recorded value since 2013, but less than 5% higher than the 2020 value.

NERA Securities Class Action Trends Report Series

NERA has been analyzing trends in securities class actions for more than three decades. This year-end study is co-authored by NERA Senior Consultants Janeen McIntosh and Svetlana Starykh, with contributions from Managing Director Dr. David Tabak. In addition to NERA’s US report, the firm produces an annual report on securities class action litigation in Canada here.

To download the report, visit here.

About NERA

Since 1961, NERA has provided unparalleled guidance on the most important market, legal, and regulatory questions of the day. Our work has shaped industries and policy around the world. Our field-leading experts and deep experience allows us to provide rigorous analysis, reliable expert testimony, and data-powered policy recommendations for the world’s leading law firms and corporations as well as regulators and governments. Our experience, integrity, and economic ingenuity mean you can depend on us in the face of your biggest economic and financial challenges.