Western Pennsylvania Electrical Employees Pension Fund, Pittsburgh, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn., against HCA Inc., Nashville, and three company executives, alleging violations of securities laws and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, according to court papers. Attorneys representing the pension fund claim that HCA Chairman and CEO Jack O. Bovender Jr., President and COO Richard M. Bracken and CFO Robert Milton Johnson issued false statements about the company's performance from Jan. 12 through July 12 that caused "HCA's shares to trade at artificially inflated levels," the complaint said. The filing also noted the defendants had access to "adverse undisclosed information about HCA's business, financial condition and prospects" at the time they made "materially false and misleading" representations.
The complaint seeks class action status and an initial case management conference is slated for March 13, according to the court docket.
HCA officials confirmed the suit in a filing Wednesday with the SEC, saying the company "intends to vigorously defend this matter and any similar suits that may be filed."
The pension fund, which covers Electrical Workers, IBEW, Local 5, Pittsburgh, purchased a total of $10,800 HCA shares during the class period and is seeking unspecified damages as well as reimbursement of costs associated with the litigation, according to the filing. The union had about $138.5 million in pension assets as of December 2002, according to Money Market Directory.
HCA shares were up 0.21 points at $49.16 on Thursday afternoon.