Eight more public pension funds have joined Louisiana School Employees' Retirement System, Baton Rouge, in filing a class-action lawsuit against Waste Management Inc. and certain officers and directors of the company. The funds are seeking lead plaintiff status as a group, said Douglas M. McKeige, partner of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, the law firm representing the pension funds.
They are: Detroit General Retirement System; Detroit Policemen & Firemen Retirement System; Jacksonville (Fla.) Fire & Police Pension Fund; City of Miami General Employees' Retirement System; Houston Firefighters' Relief & Retirement Fund; Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System and Firefighters' Retirement System of Louisiana, both of Baton Rouge; and City of New Orleans Employees' Retirement System.
According to Mr. McKeige, Waste Management overstated its publicly reported financial results for the first and second quarters. The company lowered its first-quarter results and projected a downward change in the second-quarter results. Senior executives named in the suit sold more than $70 million in Waste Management stock before the results were changed.
From June 1998 through Aug. 2, the estimated aggregate loss for the group seeking the lead plaintiff role was $24 million.
Said Ralph Whitworth, chairman of WMI and a longtime shareholder activist himself: "We understand our shareholders' concern about this matter. Our board of directors are also concerned. We have an internal investigation under way and we are cooperating with the SEC and their interest in this matter."
No hearing date has been set for the pension funds' lead plaintiff motion.