Hawaii pension funds join AOL lawsuit
Five retirement funds for Hawaii workers have joined approximately 100 other plaintiffs in a shareholder lawsuit against Time Warner Inc., its management and others associated with the company's 2001 merger with America Online.
The suit alleges that AOL inflated sales to help close the deal, which created a conglomerate that was to marry the new media embodied by AOL with the traditional media of Time Warner, the giant whose assets include such venerable institutions as the Warner Bros. studio in Hollywood and Time magazine. The suit asks for $1.6 billion.
The new shareholder complaint comes after more than 100 investors chose to opt out of a $2.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit against New York-based Time Warner, said William Lerach, whose San Diego-based firm, Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, is lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
"They feel they want to maximize whatever recovery they can," Lerach said yesterday. He said all investors lost as much as $300 billion from the merger, including interest.
Among those joining the plaintiffs are the Hawaii Electricians Annuity Fund, the Hawaii Electricians Pension Fund, the Hawaii Laborers Pension Fund, the Hawaii Reinforcing Ironworkers Pension Trust Fund and the Hawaii Structural Ironworkers Pension Trust Fund.
They are represented locally by Price Okamoto Himeno & Lum.
"We will defend against these actions vigorously," Time Warner spokeswoman Susan Duffy said of the new suits. She said the "overwhelming majority" of Time Warner shareholders are participating in the settlement and that it isn't threatened by the opt-out suits.
Star-Bulletin writer Stewart Yerton contributed to this report