Wawa Inc. agreed to pay $21.6 million to settle an ERISA complaint by participants in the Wawa Inc. Employee Stock Option Plan, which said changes in the plan shortchanged investors.
A preliminary settlement document was filed July 9 in a U.S. District Court in Philadelphia in the case of Cunningham et al. vs. Wawa Inc. et al. The parties had reached a tentative agreement in late December, but didn't disclose terms at that time.
The settlement requires approval for an independent fiduciary and the court. Some 10,000 participants are covered by the agreement with the private company that operates convenience stores and gas stations, the document said.
The plaintiffs' suit, filed in August 2018, said that amendments to the ESOP in 2014 and 2015 limited the rights of some former employees to remain invested in the plan until age 68, according to the settlement document. "The class members received less than fair market value for their Wawa shares liquidated on an annual basis in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 pursuant to four separate valuations conducted in each of those years," the document said.
"Defendants deny the material allegations asserted in the action; deny any wrongdoing or liability whatsoever; and state that they are entering into the settlement solely to avoid the cost, disruption and uncertainty of litigation," the document said.
The Wawa Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan, Wawa, Pa., had assets of $2.07 billion as of Dec. 31, 2018, according to the latest Form 5500.