Pension Lawyers Tapped for Lead Role in Lawsuit

November 11, 2010 ( – A federal judge has named the Oklahoma Police Pension & Retirement System (OPPRS) to lead a lawsuit that claims Education Management Corp. defrauded OPPRS and other investors.

A news release from the Berman DeValerio law firm representing OPPRS said Gaer v. Education Management Corp. et al., 2:10-cv-01061 is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. In his order appointing OPPRS, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell asserted that OPPRS is “a sophisticated institutional investor, the paradigmatic lead plaintiff envisioned by Congress” when it created the lead plaintiff mechanism in 1995.

The class action lawsuit accuses Pittsburgh-based Education Management and certain of its officers and directors of issuing a series of materially false and misleading statements about its growth and potential profits beginning with filings tied to the company’s initial public offering in October 2009. When the true facts about the company emerged in August 2010, Education Management’s stock fell nearly 18%, the suit alleged.

“Our members are police officers and retired police officers. As they have a duty to serve and protect our citizens, we, too, have a duty to protect their hard-earned retirement money and to take appropriate action to recover that money when someone breaks the law and tries to steal it,” said Steven K. Snyder, the OPPRS executive director and chief investment officer, in the news release. “We are not hesitant to use the courts when they provide the best avenue for recovery.”

The alleged fraud cost OPPRS losses of more than $426,000, giving it the largest financial interest of any investor actively pursuing the lawsuit, according to court filings.

Specifically, according to the news release, the plaintiffs accuse the defendants of making positive statements throughout the period covered by the suit about the company’s operational performance and future growth projections that they knew were false or recklessly disregarded as false.

In fact, the plaintiffs contend that the defendants all along were propping up Education Management’s results by fraudulently inducing students to enroll in its scholastic and educational programs and engaging in manipulative recruiting tactics. Furthermore, defendants materially overstated the company’s growth prospects by failing to disclose that they had engaged in illicit and improper recruiting activities.

Established in 1981, the Oklahoma Police Pension & Retirement System administers $1.6 billion in retirement assets for more than 8,000 qualified police officers and their beneficiaries from participating municipalities around the state.