- The scale of data breach class actions “exploded” in 2023, as companies faced copycat and follow-on lawsuits across multiple jurisdictions, according to a Duane Morris report.
- The combined value of the top 10 settlements across all areas of class-action litigation hit near-record highs. Class actions and government enforcement lawsuits generated more than $50 billion in settlements in 2023, the report said.
- Additionally, the emergence of generative AI has the potential to spur the plaintiffs’ class action bar to do “more with less” when it comes to filing suits, a press release about Duane Morris’ Class Action Review 2024 said.
In the last two years, class actions and government enforcement lawsuits have generated roughly $113 billion in settlements, the Duane Morris report found.
Many of the settlements took place outside of the products and pharmaceutical industries, which indicates there is a wider base of threats to businesses.
“Looking at the class action settlement numbers from the past year, it’s clear that last year’s unprecedented level of settlements was not a one-off phenomenon,” said Duane Morris partner Gerald Maatman, Jr., co-author of the review and chair of the firm’s workplace class action division. “We have entered a period of increased threats and heightened stakes in the valuation of class actions. The massive numbers will only work to further motivate the plaintiff’s bar in 2024 to increase filings and assert even more aggressive settlement positions.”
Companies faced significant costs responding to data breach class actions last year.
These cases also presented difficulties for the courts around issues of standing and uninjured class members, the report said.
Plaintiffs in data breach class actions faced challenges in demonstrating injuries from the alleged data breaches and securing class certification.
“Indeed, less than 25% of the class certification decisions issued in data breach cases in 2023 came out in favor of plaintiffs,” the report said.
The report also notes that generative AI has swiftly become a very hot topic for corporate counsel amid a push by companies to use tools powered by the emerging technology.
GenAI could streamline many litigation tasks such as the discovery process and aid in class member communications, according to the report.
“In 2023, we saw the tip of the iceberg relative to the ways that generative AI is poised to transform class action litigation,” the report said.