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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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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