Judge Scolds Pension Funds for Rushing into Wal-Mart Case

July 17, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A judge from the Delaware Court of Chancery scolded attorneys representing public pension funds for rushing into lawsuits concerning allegations of bribery involving Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s operations in Mexico.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports Chancellor Leo Strine Jr. denied competing motions from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), and a group of New York City pension funds seeking appointment as lead plaintiff with lead counsel in a consolidated shareholder lawsuit alleging that Wal-Mart officials breached their fiduciary duties by allowing and covering up the alleged bribery (see “New York City Pension Funds Sue Wal-Mart”).  

Strine said the attorneys seemed more interested in competing with each other in a “first-file Olympics” by raising sloppy complaints based on media reports than doing their homework and doing right by investors. He urged them to work together in demanding corporate records from Wal-Mart, taking time to investigate, then acting in the best interests of Wal-Mart stockholders, the news report said.  

The judge added that he could not understand why attorneys for the pension groups, each of which holds more than $5 million in Wal-Mart stock, thought an April report in the New York Times outlining the alleged bribery scheme was a sufficient basis to file derivative shareholder complaints.  

While the alleged bribery scheme may raise important legal issues, Strine said, there’s no reason to hurry a lawsuit. “It didn’t happen yesterday,” he noted, according to the news report.