According to a report that NERA Economic Consulting released yesterday, plaintiffs firms that handle securities class actions last year collected fees and federal court-related expenses amounting to $653 million, a 4 percent increase from 2011. The fees were awarded out of the $3.3 billion recovered in class actions in 2012. Additionally, the report found that aggregate settlement amounts increased by 22 percent from 2011.

Last year’s largest fee award stemmed from a 2004 case against American International Group that resulted in two partial settlements totaling $822.5 million. In that case, the court awarded more than $100 million in fees to plaintiffs firms led by Labaton Sucharow and Hahn Loeser & Parks.

Some other top fee awards in 2012 include:

  • $55 million from a $200 million settlement with Motorola Inc.
  • $53.55 million from a $315 million settlement with Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch
  • $35.39 million from a $294.9 million settlement with Bearn Stearns

Nonetheless, NERA’s report says the median proportion of fees to settlements has been declining. Settlements recovering $100 million to $500 million resulted in fees that were 18.2 percent of that recovery from 2010 to 2012; from 1996 to 2009, that number was 24.2 percent. The exception was cases with settlements in which more than $1 billion was recovered; in those cases, 12.6 percent of the recovery went to fees from 2010 to 2012, compared with 8.3 percent from 1996 to 2009.

Read Thomson Reuters for more information.

Read more InsideCounsel news about securities class actions:

Securities class action filings drop sharply

Opt-outs: A growing trend in securities litigation

Securities class action settlements go down in number

2011 saw surge in securities class actions against Chinese companies

Plaintiffs firms secure big settlements in securities class actions

Securities class actions on the rise in Canada