Ashworth Inc., Carlsbad, Calif., will pay $15.25 million and institute new corporate governance practices in a settlement of a class-action lawsuit led by the $4.5 billion New Hampshire Retirement System, Concord. The complaint, filed in 1999, alleged that Ashworth misled investors about the value of its stock between September 1997 and July 1998. The system owned 63,000 shares of Ashworth stock during that period, according to Elizabeth Fox, attorney with Berger & Montague, outside counsel for the class action. Under the settlement, the plaintiffs will split the cash amount and agree to drop all claims against Ashworth and certain current and former directors and officers. The settlement must be approved by the U.S. District Court in San Diego.
Ashworth "believes that settling this matter at this time is in the best interest of shareholders as it avoids further protracted litigation. The terms of the agreement ... (include) no admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company or other defendants," the company said in a statement.