Coke Cites Lerach Plea to Bar Class Action
Updated and corrected: Lawyers for Coca-Cola defending a securities class action suit are accusing former plaintiffs’ lawyer William Lerach of engaging in the same kind of tactics that led to his recent guilty plea.
The lawyers are focusing on a $75,000 payment to witnesses in the lawsuit, which they say had been concealed, according to the Fulton County Daily Report. They are asking a judge to deny class certification in the suit, which contends Coca-Cola pressured bottlers to buy excess syrup to inflate revenues and hide failures to meet sales projections.
Lerach pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to obstruct justice in an alleged scheme to pay clients to serve as lead plaintiffs in securities lawsuits. His plea agreement said the checks were described as referral or professional fees.
Coke lawyers wrote in a court filing that “a confession by the lead lawyer who brought and oversaw the prosecution of this securities case until just last month that he suborned perjury in securities cases to enrich himself requires denial of class certification. Indeed, the circumstances here present an even more compelling case because defendants have demonstrated that plaintiffs’ counsel have engaged in the same sort of tactics in this case that … Mr. Lerach [has] now admitted in other similar cases.”
This post was corrected on 2/29/2008. The amount of the alleged payment was $75,000, not $750,000 as previously reported.