Tech company settlements decline sharply after peaking in 2018.
San Francisco–Securities class action filings involving technology companies rose by more than 50% in 2019, the fourth annual increase in a row, according to a new Cornerstone Research report released today.
The report, Tech Company Securities Class Action Filings and Settlements—2015–Q1 2020 Review and Analysis, found that the number of filings against tech companies increased to a record 85 new cases in 2019 from 55 the year before. Companies in the Internet and Software subsectors were targeted in 66% of 2019 cases.
Tech company cases in both federal and state courts have boomed over the last four years, accounting for 20% of total securities class action filings. Similar to overall filings activity, tech company filings saw a shift from federal to state courts, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling that state courts have jurisdiction over 1933 Act claims.
The first quarter of 2020 saw a decline in tech company cases, likely due in part to slowdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will continue to monitor the longer term impact of the pandemic. If Q1 2020 is any indication, however, the pandemic’s impact on the market value of tech companies may be less severe than its effect on the overall market,” said Ravi Sinha, a Cornerstone Research vice president and report coauthor. “The S&P 500 declined by 20% during the first quarter of 2020, while the Dow Jones U.S. Technology Index lost 12% of its market value.”
The number of tech company settlements has been volatile in recent years, declining to its lowest level in 2019, after peaking in 2018. For the first time in the last five years, however, the median settlement amount for tech company cases ($17 million) exceeded the median for non-tech company settlements ($11 million) in 2019.