ILNews

Indiana pension fund attorneys to serve as lead co-counsel in Wal-Mart bribery suit

Marilyn Odendahl
September 10, 2012
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The Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund has been named as co-lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the board of directors of retail giant Wal-Mart.

According to attorney Stuart Grant, the Indiana pension fund has not joined the lawsuit but has filed a separate suit against the retailer asking for company books and records regarding the investigation of a bribery scandal.  

Yet, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine made the Indiana union co-lead plaintiff because, in his opinion, the Indiana fund is taking the proper strategy in conducting its own review of company documents rather than relying on media reports.

The other co-lead plaintiffs are the California State Teachers Retirement System and the New York City Employees’ Retirement System.

The lawsuits stem from allegations, reported by The New York Times, that Wal-Mart employees bribed Mexican officials to get building permits which helped the company’s growth in the country.

Grant explained the pension funds are not suing Wal-Mart. The funds want to ensure that any fines or criminal liability be born solely by the directors and not by the company because the board of directors appears to have squashed an investigation into the bribery scandal.

“We’re not trying to hurt Wal-Mart,” Grant said.

The IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) has a good relationship with Wal-Mart, he continued, noting the union members shop at the store, are stockholders and want the company to prosper which will, in turn, benefit them.

The federal government is also investigating the bribery incident to see if Wal-Mart violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.

In addition, the Indiana fund is suing to force Wal-Mart to turn over internal company reports regarding the investigation into the allegations. According to the Indianapolis Star, the attorneys for the electrical workers received 3,474 documents from the retailer but nearly half were redacted. In a twist, an anonymous informant mailed the plaintiff a slew of papers that the Indiana pension fund lawyers say supports the allegations in the Times’ story.

Whether the Indiana pension fund will join the suit against the board depends on what the internal company documents reveal, Grant said. However, he did indicate there is a strong possibility the IBEW will become a party to the lawsuit.  

“Based on what I’ve seen, it’s ugly for these directors,” he said.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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