Ohio Will Stay Close to Home With Enron, WorldCom Claims

September 4, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The state of Ohio thinks it has a better shot at larger monetary awards by pursuing its more than $500 million in claims against Enron and WorldCom in state court.

That’s why Attorney General Betty Montgomery is opting to move litigation over the state’s losses out of a federal class-action case to Franklin County Common Pleas Court, according to an Associated Press news report. In state court, officials say, they stand a better chance of recovering more of Ohio’s losses from the energy trading and communications firms, both of which are now in US Bankruptcy Court.

“There are more financial resources we can pursue in state court under state law,” Montgomery spokesman Joe Case told the AP. “Federal laws that govern class-action litigation restrict who we can go after.”

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Pension systems in California, Illinois, West Virginia and Alabama also have dropped out of the federal lawsuits to pursue their own cases in state courts, the attorney general’s office said. Ohio had been one of several states pursuing a federal class action.

Montgomery has said that although the losses to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System are just a small percentage of the programs’ total balance, legal action against the companies will protect Ohio investors, the AP story reported.