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The Rise Of “Event-Driven” Securities Class Actions

Stained Glass window representing Justice, symbolized by sword and balance, in the Cathedral of Saint Rumbold in Mechelen, Belgium.

December 30, 2020

Events like environmental disasters, #MeToo reckonings, cybersecurity breaches and even COVID outbreaks, which might predictably draw plaintiff injury lawsuits, are increasingly becoming the basis of securities class actions. At the same time, the number of traditional shareholder suits based on accounting malfeasance or fraud claims is declining. In 2018 it was the opioid crisis and #MeToo-realated claims, while 2019 saw an increase in cases arising out of environmental disasters and cybersecurity failures. In 2020, it included the pandemic, with a number of major cases being filed. “The main theory in the event-driven cases,” notes this post by analysts from ISS Securities Class Action Services, “is that the occurrence or event upon which the case is based was the materialization of an under-disclosed or downplayed risk.” The arguments may be tenuous, they say, but the trend is likely to continue.

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