WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) – A San Antonio public pension fund and a San Antonio health care fund are suing a fruit and vegetable producer and two of its chief officers over claims they artificially reduced the company's stock price.

San Antonio Fire and Police Pension Fund and Fire and Police Health Care Fund, San Antonio, filed a lawsuit Dec. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against Dole Food Co., David H. Murdock and C. Michael Carter, alleging violations of the Securities Exchange Act.

The plaintiffs and others in the class bought Dole common stock between Jan. 2, 2013, and Oct. 31, 2013. The suit arises out of the defendants' alleged scheme to acquire the publicly held shares of Dole and convert the company to a privately held enterprise owned by Murdock, the company's CEO.

The suit claims the defendants made a series of false and misleading negative statements about the company's operations and finances in an effort to deceive the investing public and artificially lower Dole's stock price so Murdock could buy the company cheaply.

As a result of the defendants' false statements, Dole's stock fell as low as $9.27, according to the suit. Murdock purchased Dole for approximately $1.6 billion on Nov. 1, 2013.

The plaintiffs and others in the class suffered financial losses by selling their Dole stock at artificially reduced prices, the suit alleges.

The plaintiffs and the class seek compensatory damages, interests, injunctive relief, and costs and expenses of the suit, including attorney fees and expert fees.

They are represented by attorneys Joel Friedlander, Jeffrey M. Gorris, Christopher Foulds and Benjamin P. Chapple of Friedlander & Gorris in Wilmington, and by attorneys Gerald H. Silk, Mark Lebovitch, Avi Josefson and Michael Blatchley of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman in New York City.

U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware Case number 1:15-CV-01140-UNA

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U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware
844 N King St
Wilmington, DE - 19801

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