Bear’s Ills Draw Company Stock "Investigation"

It didn’t take long for the news from Bear Stearns to draw the attention of the plaintiffs’ bar.

The law firm of Stember Feinstein Doyle & Payne, LLC has announced it is investigating possible illegal conduct relating to the Bear Stearns Companies Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan, Profit Sharing Plan and Deferred Compensation Plan.

According to a press release, the firm’s investigation relates to “whether certain fiduciaries of the Plans knew or should have known that Bear Stearns was concealing its large exposure to highly risky Collateralized Debt Obligations, subprime mortgages, and other poor-quality securities, which has rendered Bear Stearns common stock and certain funds that it manages and offers as a risky investment for Plan participants.”

Specifically, the firm said it was investigating whether Bear Stearns breached its fiduciary obligations under ERISA:

  • by continuing to offer Bear Stearns common stock and mutual funds as an investment option for participant contributions when it was imprudent to do so; and
  • by failing to take action to sell Bear Stearns stock and mutual funds or otherwise protect the plans’ assets in light of the company’s risky business strategies and deteriorating financial conditions

The firm said that Ellen M. Doyle of Stember Feinstein Doyle & Payne has been appointed class counsel to represent numerous classes of ERISA plan participants and has served as lead or co-lead counsel in actions recovering more than $100 million for pension plans and their participants.

The press release goes on to suggest that participants (literally those who have an individual account) in any of the three plans may have a claim, and suggests they contact the firm.