Goldman wins dismissal of NY lawsuit over bonuses

Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:29pm EDT

People walk past the entrance to the Goldman Sachs building at 200 West Street, New York June 2, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

People walk past the entrance to the Goldman Sachs building at 200 West Street, New York June 2, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc's (GS.N) board of directors has won the dismissal of a lawsuit seeking to recover billions of dollars of bonus payouts and other compensation awarded for 2009.

The January 2010 lawsuit said Goldman's policy of targeting a payout of close to 50 percent of net revenue as compensation reflected a "complete breakdown" of oversight that showed "scant regard" for shareholder interests.

According to its annual report for that year, Goldman ultimately paid out $16.19 billion in compensation and benefits for 2009, or 35.8 percent of its net revenue of $45.17 billion, its lowest percentage payout as a public company.

In his ruling, Justice Bernard Fried dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, saying the allegations "do not provide any basis for the conclusion that the board acted for any purpose other than the advancement of the company's interests."

The lawsuit combined cases brought by Illinois' Central Laborers Pension Fund and an individual plaintiff, Ken Brown.

Deborah Elman, a lawyer for the fund, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Lynda Grant, a lawyer for Brown, said, "We're disappointed with the decision and don't agree with it." Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally declined to comment.

The case is Central Laborers' Pension Fund v. Blankfein et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 600036/2010.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by John Wallace)

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