Settlement proposed in Montana Power shareholder suit

By Kathy Woods | Oct 7, 2009

BUTTE, Mont. (Legal Newsline)- Montana Power shareholders will receive $115 million under an agreement to settle three lawsuits over the utility's asset sales.

This settlement affects shareholders who held stock in Montana Power from Dec. 17, 1999, to Sept. 21, 2001.

Wade Dahood, a lawyer who spearheaded the civil suit, says although
the matter isn't completely over, he expects it to be within the next six to nine months.

U.S. District Court Judge Sam Haddon has given the shareholders and the company until Nov. 13 to have all documents for the proposed settlement before issuing his approval.

The class action lawsuit was filed in 2001 when MPC sold most of its utility assets causing stock prices to fall drastically.

The attorney who spoke on behalf of Montana Power before Haddon, Dana Christensen, said: "negotiations for the settlement were difficult and there were many bumps along the road."

Haddon also ordered the attorneys to calculate the total losses incurred by the shareholders. Depending on how many shares a particular shareholder held and when they were sold will determine what percentage of the settlement they will receive.

Friday's settlement proposal dealt with three separate lawsuits the company was facing: the shareholders lawsuit, a security act lawsuit, and an Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit.

"I consider this as complex and multifaceted a series of cases as the federal court has ever seen in Montana," Haddon said.
While details of the settlement are worked out Haddon said he would like the money placed in an escrow account so it can begin accruing interest.

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