U.S. securities class action filings ramped up in 2015, reaching their highest level since the financial crisis, according to a report released Monday from White Plains, N.Y.-based NERA Economic Consulting.
According to the report, 234 securities class actions were filed in U.S. federal courts in 2015, which was up by about 8% from there previous year. Moreover, the year produced the greatest volume of class actions since the height of the financial crisis in 2008.
Estimated "investor losses" in the cases filed in 2015 totalled US$183 billion, up by more than 25% from 2014, the NERA report says. Two of the largest cases were brought against Canadian issuers, it notes, with filings against Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and Silver Wheaton Corp.
By sector, firms in the electronic technology and technology services sector saw the greatest number of class action cases filed against them, representing 22% of all filings. In addition, 19% of securities class actions filed had a defendant in the financial sector, but this was down sharply from 29% in 2014, the report notes.
The NERA report also indicates that cases are being filed more quickly than in the past. In 2015 the median time between the end of the alleged class period and filing date shortened to a record 11 days, down almost 40% since 2014.
One-hundred and eight cases were settled in 2015, the report adds, although median settlement values were little changed from last year at approximately $7 million. The number of pending class actions reached 622 in 2015, up by 16% since 2011, to the highest level since 2006, the NERA report says.