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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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