Securities Class Actions in State Court

58 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2011 Last revised: 17 Aug 2011

See all articles by Jennifer J. Johnson

Jennifer J. Johnson

Lewis & Clark College Paul L Boley Library

Date Written: June 1, 2011


Over the past two decades, Congress has gradually usurped the power of state regulators to enforce state securities laws and the power of state courts to adjudicate securities disputes. This Paper evaluates the impact of Congressional preemption and preclusion upon state court securities class actions. Utilizing a proprietary database, the Paper presents and analyzes a comprehensive dataset of 1500 class actions filed in state courts from 1996-2010. The Paper first examines the permissible space for state securities class actions in light of Congressional preclusion and preemption embodied in the 1998 Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA) and Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). The Paper then presents the state class action filing data detailing the numbers, classifications, and jurisdictions of state class action cases that now occupy the state forums. First, as expected, the data indicates that there are few traditional stock-drop securities class actions litigated in state court today. Second, in spite of the debate over the impact of SLUSA and CAFA on 1933 Act claims, very few plaintiffs attempt to litigate these matters in state court. Finally, the number of state court class actions involving merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions is skyrocketing and now surpasses such claims filed in federal court. Moreover, various class counsel file their M & A complaints in multiple jurisdictions. The increasingly large number of multi-forum M&A class action suits burden the defendants and their counsel, the judiciary and even plaintiffs’ lawyers themselves. The paper concludes that absent effective state co-ordination, further Congressional preemption is possible, if not likely.

Keywords: Securities, State Court, Class Actions, Mergers & Acquisitions, Class Action Fairness Act, CAFA, Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act, SLUSA, 1933 Act, Federal Preemption

JEL Classification: K22, K23, K41

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Jennifer J., Securities Class Actions in State Court (June 1, 2011). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Forthcoming, Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-17, Available at SSRN:

Jennifer J. Johnson (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark College Paul L Boley Library ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

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