The Supreme Court today upheld a lower court's decision to reject a lawsuit brought by the California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, and the Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee, against Archer Daniels Midland Co. The funds had sought to recover damages for shareholders resulting from illegal behavior by ADM.
The court voted 4-4 on the appeal, and the split vote - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor did not participate - lets stand the lower court ruling.
CalPERS and Florida, two of ADM's largest shareholders, filed an objection to an $8 million settlement, all of which went for attorneys' fees, of shareholder suits resulting from ADM's guilty plea in 1996 to violating federal antitrust laws. ADM paid a $100 million fine and another $90 million to settle three civil antitrust lawsuits.
The pension funds objected to the settlement, saying no money was returned to the shareholders who had lost $190 million in value because of ADM's illegal conduct.
Brad Pacheco, a spokesman for CalPERS, said the pension fund thinks it's ``unfortunate the court failed to reach a decision. We're left now without direction.'' However, he added, ``It's certain the issue will arise in future cases.''