Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Ongoing Milberg Weiss Controversy

62 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2010 Last revised: 7 Oct 2016

Lonny Hoffman

University of Houston Law Center

Alan F. Steinberg

University of Houston - Department Political Science

Date Written: July 16, 2010


In this paper we revisit the ongoing controversy surrounding the Milberg Weiss prosecution. Our paper responds to an important, recent empirical study by Michael A. Perino that claims to have found evidence to support the government’s assertion (made without evidentiary support) that class members were in fact injured by the payments Milberg made to the named representatives. Notwithstanding the carefully constructed and rigorous study Perino has authored, we argue that the evidentiary proof of harm he claims to have found simply cannot withstand scrutiny. We raise several methodological critiques of the study. Although we did not have access to Perino’s full data, we were able to replicate some of it by using the same database of securities class action settlements on which he primarily relied. The replication data results validate some of our hypotheses. Most critically, the replication data strongly suggests that the reason why fees may have been higher in the indictment cases is that the almost all were filed before the Reform Act went into effect. By contrast, the vast majority of cases in the replication sample of Perino’s non-indictment cases were filed in a later period when fees have been lower. Additionally, the replication data we report is not consistent with some of the descriptive statistical findings Perino presents. Specifically, we find no difference either in mean or median fee awards between cases in which the government alleged Milberg paid a kickback and all other cases. Beyond the study’s methodological difficulties, we also show that there are equally substantial reasons to be concerned about the inferential conclusions Perino draws from the data. The big take away that Perino offers at the end of his study - that the evidence contradicts the claim that kickbacks paid to the named plaintiffs were a “victimless crime” - is not supported by the data he has collected and reported. Far from demonstrating that kickbacks allowed Milberg to obtain higher fees, his study fails to rule out the possibility that other, entirely benign reasons could explain the higher fees Milberg received, including that the fees were earned by the results obtained in settlements of the indictment cases.

Keywords: none

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Hoffman, Lonny and Steinberg, Alan F., The Ongoing Milberg Weiss Controversy (July 16, 2010). 30 The Review of Litigation 183 (2011) ; U of Houston Law Center No. 2016-A-23. Available at SSRN: or

Lonny Hoffman (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States
713-743-5206 (Phone)

Alan F. Steinberg

University of Houston - Department Political Science ( email )

Houston, TX 77204
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views