Suit against ABB and Fidelity gets class status

BOSTON Mon Dec 3, 2007 4:42pm EST

BOSTON Dec 3 (Reuters) - A U.S. court has granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed by employees and retirees of a unit of Swiss engineering group ABB Ltd (ABBN.VX) against the firm and two units of Fidelity Investments, a law firm said on Monday.

The suit, filed in 2006 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, had charged ABB Inc and the units of money manager Fidelity with breaching their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

It charged that the defendants allowed Fidelity to steer ABB's 401(k) plan "toward expensive Fidelity funds" and caused "plan participants to incur unnecessary and improper fees in connection with the plan."

"The court has determined that the case will proceed as a class action on behalf of all employees, retirees who are in the plan," Jerome Schlichter, partner at law firm Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, told Reuters. The firm has been appointed as the "class counsel" to represent the entire class, he said.

Ronald Kurtz, ABB Inc's director for media and community relations, said the firm was aware of the decision but could not comment any further as the matter was in litigation.

Fidelity spokesman Vin Loporchio said the firm would "vigorously" defend itself in the suit. "We disagree with the complaint and specifically disagree that the plan has overpaid or that Fidelity has violated any Fiduciary duty," he said.

(Reporting by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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