What's a Nice Company Like Goldman Sachs Doing in the Supreme Court? How Securities Fraud Class Actions Rip Off Ordinary Investors - And What To Do About It


This essay considers the issues raised in the latest securities fraud class action to reach the Supreme Court—Goldman Sachs v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System— and finds that the claims asserted therein against Goldman Sachs on behalf of open market buyers of its common stock are claims that should have been asserted on behalf of Goldman Sachs (by means of a derivative action) and against the individuals who caused the losses at issue. The losses suffered by individual buyers of Goldman Sachs stock during the extraordinarily long forty-month alleged fraud period are minimal if they exist at all. Moreover, the law is quite clear that claims on behalf of the company arising from the same constellation of facts should take precedence over any claims on behalf of individual buyers. Yet the practice that has evolved is the opposite: class claims take priority and company claims are settled for nonmonetary governance reforms of dubious value rather than for real money. The forces that have led to this classic example of market failure are both fascinating and sinister. But the bottom line is that ordinary investors—such as investors in well diversified mutual funds and index funds—end up losing far more than they gain from class actions. Indeed, index fund investors effectively pay out about twenty dollars for every dollar they recover. Thus, the best hope for reforming the system is for index funds to step up and intervene to assert the interests of diversified investors in favor of litigating such claims as derivative actions rather than as class actions.




Business Organizations Law | Law | Legal Remedies | Securities Law | Supreme Court of the United States