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Stock image: Details of a legal document for a class action lawsuit.

For the sixth year in a row, in-house legal departments increased their spending in defending against class action lawsuits last year, according to results from a new survey. And the spending is expected to rise more this year, amid a wave of pandemic disputes and data breach litigation.

The 10th annual Class Action Survey by the Carlton Fields law firm estimates that U.S. companies spent a total of $2.9 billion in 2020 defending class action lawsuits, based on all costs associated with defending such litigation, including outside counsel fees and e-discovery. This is in contrast to what the law firm had projected for 2020; it reported last year that companies would likely spend about $2.73 billion on class action lawsuits.

Finding savings will become important as class actions are only expected to increase in the coming years. The report predicts that spending on class action defense will exceed $3 billion in 2021, partly because of new litigation filed during the pandemic.

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