A man stands outside JPMorgan Chase bank on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan in New York City. - 

The New York Attorney General has sued JPMorgan Chase. The issue is mortgage-backed securities peddled by its Bear Stearns unit, leading up to the financial crisis.

The lawsuit alleges that Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan acquired in 2008,  ignored warnings, made mortgage-backed investments look a lot safer than they actually were, and ended up costing investors about $22 billion. The suit marks a change in the way investors and prosecutors are going after the banks -- the monetary compensation is higher and the case is civil rather than criminal.

"It takes a long time to get the information you need because you have to go digging through the records of large companies with millions of emails and millions of files to find the smoking gun," says economist Peter Morici.

Observers expect more lawsuits like this and settlements rather than lengthy court battles.

Follow Eve Troeh at @evetroeh