CA State Retirement Systems Seek to Lead BofA Class Action

March 24, 2009 ( - The nation's two largest state public pension funds filed a joint motion Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to be designated lead plaintiff in class actions against Bank of America over its merger with Merrill Lynch.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) announced that the move was made “to protect the retirement security of over two million members.”

The suits allege BofA misled its shareholders by not disclosing the depths of Merrill’s problems while shareholders were considering whether to support the deal (see Merrill Settles Subprime-Related Suits ). CalPERS Board President Rob Feckner said in the announcement the fact that bonuses were paid to Merrill executives early and were not disclosed to shareowners compounded the harm to shareowners (see NY AG Moves to Force Former Merrill CEO to Discuss Employee Bonuses ).

It’s expected that the various suits will be consolidated into one case, according to the Sacramento Bee. Feckner said filing for lead plaintiff will enable lawsuits to be consolidated and managed effectively.

CalSTRS spokeswoman Sherry Reser told the Bee CalSTRS owned about 16.5 million shares of BofA as of last June, the latest figures available. The news report said CalPERS owns nearly 19 million shares, according to Thomson Financial.