New York - Private securities class-action lawsuits spiked 16 percent from 2003 to 2004, with aggregate settlements topping $5 billion - the largest amount on record, according to a securities litigation study by Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The study said that the mammoth amounts were anchored by partial settlements at companies such as WorldCom, which has thus far paid out $2.7 billion, followed by Raytheon ($510 million) and Bristol Myers ($300 million).

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