Pfizer Inc. officials have been sued by participants in the company's employee savings plan, alleging breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, claims the value of Pfizer stock in the company's savings plan plunged after news that some patients who took Pfizer's arthritis drug Celebrex had a higher risk of heart problems. The stock, which fell more than 11% on the news, was ahead 45 cents, or 1.7%, Thursday afternoon, to $26.40.
Attorney Robert Ira Harwood of the law firm Wechsler Harwood LLP confirmed he filed the lawsuit and that he is seeking class-action status. The suit names Hank McKinnell, Pfizer's chairman and CEO, other officials and the company's savings plan committee as defendants.
Calls to Pfizer offices were not returned late Thursday.
As of Sept. 30, the company had $7.8 billion in defined contribution assets, with 56% invested in company stock.
Pfizer also is the subject of investigations by at least two other securities law firms for potential claims that the company's 401(k) plan "imprudently" invested in Pfizer stock. Wayne T. Boulton, attorney at law firm Schatz & Nobel, and James F. Conway III, attorney at Johnson & Perkinson, confirmed that their firms are separately investigating claims that the investments may have violated ERISA.
Neither Mr. Boulton nor Mr. Conway would provide additional details.