Lawsuits Filed On Behalf Of Oregon PERF

August 17, 2005 ( - Two securities fraud lawsuits have been filed by Oregon's Attorney General on behalf of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund (OPERF).

A news release from Oregon State Treasurer Randall Edwards says the first suit was filed against Merck & Co., Inc. and eight current and former company officials.   The suit alleges that OPERF was hurt by the company’s failure to disclose information about the risks of cardiovascular problems caused by its drug, Vioxx.

The company’s stock price fell when the risks of the drug were reported and fell further when it was revealed that the company knew of the risks prior to the drug’s approval.   OPERF had purchased over a million shares of Merck stock before the risks were announced.  

The Merck suit seeks damages in excess of $15 million, according to the press release.

In the second suit, Marsh & McLennan, an insurance brokerage and consulting company, and top officials Jeffrey Greenberg and Ray Groves are accused of engaging in a bid-rigging scheme requiring insurance companies to submit false bids and pay kickbacks in exchange for business (See   MMC Settles ‘Shameful’ Bid-Rigging Case ).   According to the news release, the state claims that OPERF paid an inflated price for Marsh stock based on Marsh’s false statements, misleading financial reports, and the belief that Marsh operated according to a strict code of ethics.

The second suit asks for more than $10 million in damages.