What is a securities class action?

A securities class action is a lawsuit brought on behalf of a group of investors who have suffered an economic loss in a particular stock or security as a result of fraudulent stock manipulation or other violations of federal or state securities law. In federal practice, such cases are brought by one or more investors in the stock, known as “Lead Plaintiffs,” on behalf of all others who have suffered financial losses as a result of purchasing shares in a company during the period of time the fraud or securities laws violations artificially inflated the value of the stock (known as the “class period”).

What is a “class period” in a securities case and how is the class period determined?

The class period typically is the time frame during which it is believed that alleged fraud or other securities law violations artificially inflated the price of the stock at issue in the case. Only persons who purchased stock during this period are included in the class action suit. The class period initially is determined by plaintiffs’ counsel after extensive research and investigation. Sometimes the class period changes during the course of litigation as additional information is uncovered during the discovery process.

What is a “Lead Plaintiff?”

A Lead Plaintiff is a representative person(s) or party appointed by the court who stands in for and acts on behalf of the other class members in the litigation. To appoint a Lead Plaintiff, a court must determine that the proposed Lead Plaintiff’s claims are typical of those of the other class members, and that the Lead Plaintiff will adequately represent the interests of the class as a whole. Under certain circumstances, more than one class member may serve as Lead Plaintiff. The Lead Plaintiff has control over the course and direction of the litigation.

How does the court determine who serves as Lead Plaintiff?

The Private Securities Act of 1995 provides that the most adequate Lead Plaintiff is the person or group of persons who, in the determination of the court, has the largest financial interest in the relief sought by the class. The “largest financial interest” can be determined by courts in a variety of ways. Some courts appoint the Lead Plaintiff based on the dollar amount of the loss due to the securities law violations alleged, and some courts base this decision on the percentage of net worth loss. Also, depending on the circumstances, several entities and/or individuals may be appointed to serve as “Co-Lead Plaintiffs.”

What is the “Lead Plaintiff Deadline?”

Applications for Lead Plaintiff must be filed within the 60-day period following the first filing of a class action complaint in a federal securities fraud case. The application deadline is strictly applied. If you wish to be a Lead Plaintiff in a particular case, you must contact Berger Montague at least five business days in advance of this deadline.

I missed the 60 day Lead Plaintiff Deadline. What should I do now?

If you purchased your shares during the class period and sustained losses you are automatically part of the class action. The sixty-day deadline applies only to those seeking to be Lead Plaintiff.

What kind of recovery can I expect?

Until the litigation is well under way, it is impossible to determine what recovery might be possible, whether by settlement or following judgment at trial. Securities cases not dismissed for legal reasons at the outset of the litigation usually settle. Typically, a settlement consists of a payment of cash, stock, or combination of both to a common fund to be distributed to the class in proportion to the amount each class member is determined to have lost. The maximum possible recovery, which rarely is attained, is the amount of loss attributable to the illegal conduct, less attorneys’ fee and costs.

How long does a securities class action usually take to settle or resolve?

The typical securities class action takes approximately two to three years from when the initial complaint is filed until the case concludes either with settlement funds distributed to stockholders, or by judgment or dismissal. This, however, is only an estimate; some cases have taken longer, especially when there are appeals, while others have taken significantly less time to resolve.

Can I sell my stock in the company being sued and still be a class member?

Yes. It is not necessary for you to retain ownership of the stock after the class period has expired to participate in the lawsuit.

Do I need proof of my stock ownership and what is the best proof?

While the best evidence of ownership are the confirmation slips received when the stock was purchased, you may also use your brokerage statements of account indicating when you bought the stock and at what price. You should be sure to keep these records in a safe place since you may need to submit them to the claims administrator after the case has been resolved. You would be notified by mail when to send this documentation.

If two or more law firms have filed a lawsuit related to the same underlying securities violation, do I need to contact them all?

No. When more than one case has been filed on behalf of a class, those cases eventually will be consolidated by the courts, so you should not attempt to retain multiple law firms to represent you for the same claim. You cannot improve the amount of any recovery by retaining more than one law firm.

How will Berger Montague keep me informed during the course of my securities class action litigation?

You will be notified by mail or email of any significant developments during the course of the litigation. Also, our Investor Protect Group, a specially dedicated team within Berger Montague’s Securities & Investor Protection Group, can always be reached by email, toll-free telephone or mail whenever you have a question. In addition, we will update our website with pertinent case developments in each securities case as the situation warrants.

How can I discuss a potential class action or a pending case with a Berger Montague attorney?

To discuss your situation in complete confidence, simply call Berger Montague’s Investor Protect Group toll-free at (888) 891-2289 during regular business hours. You will be connected with a Berger Montague attorney who can help you. Berger Montague attorneys will discuss a pending case, or if warranted, investigate a possible class action that has not yet been brought, all without charge.

I have information about a pending securities class action case.  What should I do?

If you believe that you have information about a pending case, telephone Berger Montague’s Investor Protect Group toll-free at (888) 891-2289 to speak in confidence with a Berger Montague attorney.

I am “only” a small investor. What should I do?

As a small investor your rights most likely already are protected by those with more significant losses who already have filed a securities class action. Please add your name and address to our mailing list in order to get case updates and notices of settlements.

Why should Berger Montague represent me?

Berger Montague is one of the largest and most successful class action law firms in the United States. Since 1970, our Securities & Investor Protection Group has obtained successful results for our clients. We have extensive experience representing plaintiffs in class action securities litigation and we have played lead roles in dozens of major cases over the past four decades, having recovered billions of dollars for our investor clients and the classes they represent.

No Fees Without Recovery

Berger Montague often litigates securities fraud cases on a contingent fee basis, so plaintiffs and the class do not pay attorneys’ fees or court costs unless there is a recovery.

Contact Us to Learn More or to Report a Possible Securities Fraud

We invite you to learn more about our Securities & Investor Protection Group. Berger Montague welcomes referrals from other law firms and attorneys. If you have information about a fraud affecting institutional, individual or governmental investors, or to schedule a confidential discussion about a potential case, please fill out the contact form on the right, email us at [email protected], or contact a Securities & Investor Protection Group shareholder. We are available to evaluate potential securities fraud cases without charge.

schedule a free consultation

"*" indicates required fields

By clicking SUBMIT you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and you are providing express consent to receive communications from Berger Montague via calls, emails, and/or text messages.

On the Cutting Edge of the Profession

Legal Intelligencer