One of the many reasons we counsel against clients utilizing class action lawsuits against brokerage firms deals with the extremely paltry recovery rates. While the lawyers make large sums of money, the victims of securities fraud often often get virtually nothing. The latest class action lawsuit scam with brokerage firms? Instead of cash settlements now clients are receiving coupons.
The St. Louis Dispatch in an article today details a settlement of a class action lawsuit filed against A.G. Edwards. The securities fraud victims who had an account with A.G. Edwards between April 2000 and April 2005 are eligible to receive $20.42. Investors who still have accounts with AG Edwards (now Wells Fargo) will be eligible to receive as part of the class action lawsuit settlement three coupons worth $8.22 each. One coupon can be used each year to offset fees! Meanwhile, the lawyers will get $21 million and expenses.
In most instances, clients are far better off filing an individual FINRA arbitration claim against a brokerage firm. Class action lawsuits often lead to very small "settlements", sometimes in the form of coupons. The brokerage firm is ecstatic to settle the case for a paltry sum. The lawyers take their multi-million cut and the victims of the securities fraud? The class action lawsuit leaves them with virtually nothing.
We typically advise victims of investment fraud to pursue individual FINRA arbitration claims. The client controls the entire process and is not grouped in with other victims. The arbitration claims usually take 10-15 months. The settlements are usually much more substantial. In very few instances do class action lawsuits make sense for victims of securities fraud.
In every case, we counsel clients to discuss with a lawyer the merits of a class action lawsuit vurses a FINRA arbitration claim.