Using a sample of securities fraud class actions filed between 2003 and 2007, we study the impact of a widely-followed Supreme Court decision from that period, Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308 (2007). This decision clarified the law with respect to one of the most hotly contested issues in securities litigation: pleading scienter. The Tellabs decision reversed a very lenient Seventh Circuit decision with respect to pleading scienter, but replaced it with a standard that is nonetheless relatively generous to plaintiffs. Looking at opinions resolving motions to dismiss decided before and after that decision, we find that Tellabs correlates with a significantly lower dismissal rate in circuits previously applying a higher preponderance standard, including the Ninth Circuit, which previously had the most stringent standard for pleading scienter. Perhaps because of the greater difficulty in obtaining dismissal, Tellabs correlates with an increase in nuisance settlements in the Ninth Circuit.
Corporation and Enterprise Law | Securities Law
Date of this Version
Adam C. Pritchard and Stephen Choi, "The Supreme Court’s Impact on Securities Class Actions: An Empirical Assessment of Tellabs" (August 2009). University of Michigan Program in Law and Economics Archive: 2003-2009. Working Paper 107.