ILNews

EnerDel parent facing shareholder legal battle

IBJ Staff
October 19, 2011
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A federal judge in New York as early as this week could chose a lead plaintiff from among at least three lawsuits accusing the parent of Indianapolis-based advanced-battery maker EnerDel of misleading investors about its financial condition.

Investors began filing the suits in August, days after New York-based Ener1 said it would restate earnings for 2010 and for the first quarter of this year.

Ener1’s 2010 financial loss of $69 million eventually was restated to a loss of $165 million.

The restatement stemmed from write-downs in the company’s investment in Norwegian electric car maker Think, which was behind in payments to Ener1 for batteries.

Think, which assembles cars in Elkhart, filed for bankruptcy this summer. It has since been been acquired by investment group led by Russian entrepreneur Boris Zingarevich, who also is a major investor in Ener1.

Smaller investors who filed suit since August allege that Ener1 made false and misleading statements about Think’s true condition and failed to make timely impairment to the value of its Think investment.

Ener1’s shares have tumbled from more than $4 a share in January, when Vice President Joe Biden visited EnerDel’s Greenfield battery plant, to about 27 cents per share in recent days. The company expressed concerns about its ability to stay afloat in regulatory documents filed in August.

According to federal court records, the largest group of investors filing suit appears to have lost an aggregate $379,891.

Proving “loss causation” in such lawsuits can be a challenge. Courts have raised the burden of proof for plaintiffs to show a misstatement caused them financial loss.

“You have to prove the information was material and that the information that was missing caused the loss,” said Irwin Levin, a partner of Indianapolis law firm Cohen & Malad, which has successfully prevailed in such suits over the years.

Ener1’s Indianapolis-area operations at the beginning of the year employed about 350 people. Company officials declined to comment on the recent lawsuits, saying they are in a quiet period amid the earnings-restatement process.

The Indiana operations produce lithium-ion batteries used for hybrid cars — mostly the Think — and for power-grid storage. Ener1 also has struck preliminary agreements to supply batteries for electric cars in China, and is slated to provide batteries for a Volvo hybrid station wagon.

The company applied for $290 million in federal loan guarantees and is awaiting word on approval. It previously received a $118.5 million U.S. Department of Energy grant.

This story originally ran in the Oct. 18, 2011, IBJ Daily, a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer.
 
 

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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