On March 10, 2011, Cornerstone Research announced the results of its latest study: "Securities Class Action Settlements – 2010 Review and Analysis." The Annual Report, which provides detail on settlement summary statistics and an analysis of case characteristics, reviewed the 86 court-approved settlements in 2010, finding that the number of settlements fell to its lowest in ten years and that the total dollar value of settlements fell 17%. However, the median settlement amount increased over 40% in 2010.

One of the co-authors of the report, Professor Laura Simmons of the College of William & Mary, stated in the Press Release: "I don’t expect the sharp drop in the number of settlements to reoccur in the near future; however, the broad-based shift toward higher settlement amounts may persist in upcoming years."

Additional findings announced by Cornerstone include:

• settled cases where there was a corresponding SEC action prior to the class action settlement increased to 30% in 2010 (compared to 20% in 2009), and those cases tend to result in higher settlement amounts;

• the number of class actions involving companion derivative actions fell slightly in 2010 when compared to 2009, but still remain higher than the average number of cases since the passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act; and

• approximately 70% of the settlements announced in 2010 were related to violations of generally accepted accounting principals (a 5% increase over 2009) and those cases "continued to be resolved with statistically significant larger settlement amounts" than cases that did not involve GAAP violations or accounting issues.

Cornerstone’s Press Release regarding the study is available here.  The Study itself is available here.