There is enormous pressure on companies to settle these cases because of the cost of going to trial, the burden they inflict on management, and the risk of a runaway verdict. This typically results in settlements even in cases where the merit of the claim is questionable. The individuals responsible for wrongdoing rarely make a significant contribution, and those whom the securities class action system is supposed to protect—small, individual retail investors—are the ones who, in fact, benefit the least.
These cases threaten the health of the U.S. economy by imposing huge costs on American businesses, investors, and employees, while hurting the global competiveness of the U.S. securities markets. Companies actively question whether they want to access the U.S. securities markets and expose themselves to the problematic liability our current system imposes. The number of publicly registered American companies is now roughly half of what it was approximately 20 years ago and the fact that nearly one-in-ten public companies will be hit with a securities class action this year, could certainly dissuade companies from going public.
To curb securities litigation abuses, and improve the health of the U.S. economy, Congress, the courts and the Securities and Exchange Commission should consider commonsense reforms that would expose relationships between securities class action attorneys and plaintiffs, limit the lottery aspect of securities litigation and drive out meritless cases from the courts.