Litigating Crashes? Insights from Security Class Actions
45 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2020
Investors tend to litigate large stock price declines, i.e., file “stock-drop lawsuits”. Enterprising plaintiffs’ attorneys seek to take advantage of the stock market declines that have accompanied the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 by filing class action lawsuits. However, it is less clear whether the ex-ante threat of security class actions can deter stock price crashes. To address this question, we exploit the 1999 ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that discourages security class actions as a quasi-exogenous shock, and find that reducing the threat of security class actions leads to a significant increase in stock price crash risk. This effect is more pronounced for firms faced with higher litigation risk, with worse earnings quality and weaker monitoring from auditors, and is partially driven by decreased timeliness of bad-news disclosure. Our overall findings highlight the importance of security class actions in constraining bad-news hoarding and maintaining market stability.
Keywords: Stock Price Crash Risk; Security Class Action; Shareholder Litigation; Lawsuit; Corporate Governance
JEL Classification: G38; G18; G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation