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There Are Plaintiffs and . . . There Are Plaintiffs: An Empirical Analysis of Securities Class Action Settlements


Reform of the securities class action is once again the subject of national debate. The impetus for this debate is the reports of three different groups -- the Committee on Capital Market Regulation, the Commission on the Regulation of US Capital Markets in the 21st Century, and McKinsey & Co. Major reform of the securities class action occurred with the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA). Among the PSLRA's contributions is the introduction of procedures by which the court chooses a lead plaintiff for the class. One of the forces propelling the PLSRA's enactment was the charge that the merits did not matter in the settlement of securities class actions. This charge was leveled in a widely celebrated article that examined six settlements that fell in a tight band of twenty to 27.35% of the allowable recovery. This claim is not only debunked here but flatly rejected by other studies that find that settlements range widely and that the strength of the complaint matters -- likely a lot.

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