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Here comes those inevitable suits. From

As the subprime mess morphed from crisis to near panic, class-action lawsuits have started to flood in. And this time the targets are not dodgy companies that collapsed in accounting scandals but first-rank firms on Wall Street.

Investors and their lawyers filed 70 securities-fraud class actions in the first quarter—almost the same number that were filed in the first half of 2007, according to NERA Economic Consulting, which tracks the filing of these complaints.

The increase in filings continues a trend that began in the second half of last year, NERA says. That spike pushed class-action filings up 58 percent in 2007, compared with the year earlier. Plaintiffs filed 207 cases last year, versus 131 in 2006...

NERA says 26 of the 70 new cases are tied to subprime lending. Aside from the most obvious target—Bear Stearns, whose stock fell more than 90 percent in value during the last 15 months—the subprime-related class-action suits include cases against J.P. Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Regions Morgan Keegan funds, and TD Ameritrade, as well as two class actions against Morgan Stanley. Altogether, 19 companies have been named in class action suits related to subprime lending.