In welcome news for content-starved class-action bloggers, NERA Economic Consulting (source of the perennially popular report on Italian class actions) has released its annual report on trends in securities class actions.

The report contains some of its usual data, always interesting but mostly just confirming existing trends. Among those:

  • Overall, securities class-action filings are up again.
  • The average settlement is $42 million; the median settlement is $11.1 million.
  • Securities plaintiffs’ lawyers earned $1.353 billion in aggregate fees.

The report also contains some other interesting facts with greater strategic implications. Among these:

  • The Ninth Circuit is no longer tied with the Second Circuit, it is now the single greatest source of securities class-action filings.
  • The predicted effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Morrison v. Australia National Bank (fewer international securities cases) was muted by increased filings against Chinese companies.
  • The time to file securities class actions continues to get shorter. Now the average time to file is 185 days from an announcement of adverse news. The median time to file is 30 days, which means more than half of all class actions are filed within a month. (If I had to guess, I’d say this is likely the result of plaintiffs’ lawyers’ increased focus on investment monitoring.)
  • Cases based on product defects (including "defective" financial products) are up, so are breach-of-fiduciary-duty cases.

NERA’s reports always reward careful study.  The news about the Ninth Circuit is intriguing; it may suggest that plaintiffs’ counsel have decided that the Ninth Circuit is simply more hospitable to class actions.  And the increase in international class actions, coupled with the decrease in time to file, suggest that global business and pervasive media continue to affect the way in which plaintiffs build cases against corporate defendants.  That, in turn, suggests that defense firms will not go without work in 2011.