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A large percentage of settlements under $5 million, combined with the absence of any settlement more than $250 million, led to a dramatic drop in the value of class action settlements in 2017 to $1.5 billion from $6.1 billion in 2016, says a report issued Wednesday by Cornerstone Research Inc.
“More than half of 2017 settlements were for $5 million or less. We also saw a significant decline in midrange to large settlements,” said Laura E. Simmons, a senior adviser for Boston-based Cornerstone, who co-authored the litigation consulting firm’s annual report.
“A combination of lower estimates of the proxy for plaintiff-style damages and smaller issuer defendant firms contributed to this decrease,” she said.
Among other report highlights:
• There were 81 securities class action settlement in 2017, a slight increase from 2016’s 85, but the second highest level since 2010.
• There were four megasettlements of at least $100 million in 2017, compared with 10 in 2016, accounting for 43% of total settlement dollars compared with 81% in 2016.
• The median settlement amount in 2017 was $5 million, more than 40% lower than 2016’s $8.7 million, while 2017’s average $18.2 million settlement was 75% lower than 2016’s $72 million.
• No settlements exceeded $250 million for the first time in more than five years.
The number of securities class action settlements approved by U.S. courts in 2016 was 85, the highest level since 2010, according to a report issued Wednesday by San Francisco-based Cornerstone Research.