A total of 1,196 securities lawsuits were filed in 2010, up from 1,171 in 2009, a quarterly review of securities litigation by insurance research firm Advisen Ltd. said Thursday.
The increased number of suits was fueled by merger and acquisition activity and large events such as the Deepwater Horizon spill. But unlike the lawsuits that emerged from 2007 to 2009, the credit crisis played a more minor role.
“The year was characterized by diversity,” Advisen Senior Industry Analyst and Editor John W. Molka III said. “The most significant trend was the continued growth of suits filed in both federal and state courts alleging breach of fiduciary duties by company directors.”
Those breach of fiduciary lawsuits typically stem from M&A transactions, Molka said, and will likely continue at a higher pace with expected M&A activity.
Of the total lawsuits filed for 2010, securities fraud suits, brought by law enforcement agencies or regulators, comprised 34%, followed by breach of fiduciary suits, 33%, and securities class action suits, 16%.
The 2010 decline in securities class action suits, to 193 from 233 in 2009, was a result of the overall drop in credit crisis suits, Molka said.
Financial institutions and their employees were named most in securities suits in 2010 at 30%, followed by technology and health care companies.
Kaufman Dolowich Voluck & Gonzo LLP sponsored the study.