U.S. Sugar Agrees to $16M-Settlement of ERISA Claims

Clewiston, Florida-based U.S. Sugar has agreed to pay $15.9 million to settle a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit brought by 4,000 current and former employees, BLR reported.

The suit alleged the company and its top executives violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by trying to deprive shareholders of their right to sell shares of company stock on two occasions when U.S. Sugar was pondering buyout offers, and by significantly undervaluing shares held in the company’s employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

In April, U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed the employees’ claims, saying they did not exhaust all of their administrative remedies and that they could not claim an ERISA fiduciary breach because they held the shares in an ESOP and not directly (see “Judge Dismisses Most of U.S. Sugar ERISA Breach Suit“).

U.S. Sugar did not admit to any wrongdoing, but said it settled the suit to avoid further legal proceedings.