Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ohio AG Announces $475 Million Settlement with Merrill Lynch Is Final

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has announced that the $475 million settlement between the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS Ohio) and Merrill Lynch, first reported in January 2009, has been finalized. The settlement, in connection with a class action lawsuit, became final on August 4, 2009. The final court approval paves the way for the disbursement of funds in the largest settlement of its kind in a case brought by an Ohio entity.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office represents STRS Ohio as lead plaintiff in the case. STRS Ohio and other investors in Merrill Lynch stock and certain preferred shares suffered substantial losses after the company wrote down billions of dollars in assets backed by subprime mortgages beginning in 2007.  In a complaint filed in May 2008, STRS Ohio alleged that practices of and statements by Merrill Lynch concerning collateralized debt obligations and related assets backed by sub-prime mortgages artificially inflated the market price for Merrill Lynch stock and certain preferred shares, injuring individuals and groups who were Merrill Lynch investors. Those who stand to recover damages as part of the class include investors who purchased Merrill Lynch common stock or certain preferred shares between October 17, 2006 and December 31, 2008.

This settlement is the largest settlement of a securities class-action suit in which an Ohio-based entity served as lead plaintiff since current federal procedures for such suits were established in 1995. It ranks in the top 15 of all such settlements in United States history.

The Attorney General's office also continues to press forward as lead plaintiff for the Ohio retirement systems and others in another separate case against Bank of America for alleged violations stemming from the handling of its merger with Merrill Lynch.

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