According to the docket posted, on January 21, 2004, the Court entered the Order and Final Judgment. The settlement was approved, and the plaintiff’s counsel was awarded attorney fees and expenses.
By the Notice of Pendency and Proposed Settlement of Class Action, a settlement fund in the amount of $1,303,750 has been established. A hearing (the “Fairness Hearing”) will be held before the Honorable Sarah Evans Barker on January 20, 2004, at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 216 at the United States Courthouse, 46 East Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN to determine whether: (1) the proposed Settlement as set forth in a Stipulation of Settlement dated as of March 19, 2003 and a Stipulation of Settlement dated as of October 1, 2003 (the “Stipulations”) should be approved as fair, reasonable, adequate and in the best interests of class members; (2) a final judgment should be entered dismissing the Action with prejudice as to the Settling Defendants; and (3) the request of Counsel for plaintiff Robert Winn and the class for an award of fees and expenses should be granted. By Order entered October 3, 2003, the Court certified the following class for purposes of the proposed Settlement (the “Class”): Plaintiff Robert Winn and all other persons who purchased Symons and/or Goran common stock during the period February 27, 1998 through and including November 18, 1999.
Earlier, according to the Notice, on or about September 13, 2000 each of the Defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint: (1) pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) for failure to plead securities fraud with the requisite particularity, and (2) pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim under the federal securities laws upon which relief can be granted. Following extensive briefing, on February 19, 2002, the Court issued an opinion granting in part and denying in part the motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint. On May 1, 2002, the Court issued an opinion denying defendants’ motion for reconsideration and their motion to certify an order for appeal under 28 U.S.C. §1292(b). On March 21, 2001, the Court entered an Order, nunc pro tunc to May 23, 2000, appointing Plaintiffs Robert Winn, James Winn and Marvin Gill as Lead Plaintiffs and appointing Lowey Dannenberg Bemporad & Selinger, P.C. as Lead Counsel. On March 5, 2002, the Plaintiffs filed a renewed motion for Class certification. Defendants deposed each of the Plaintiffs, as well as the registered representative who handled their transactions in Symons and/or Goran stock. On August 26, 2002, defendants filed papers in opposition to the Plaintiffs’ Class certification motion. On or about May 15, 2002, each Defendant served an answer to the Amended Complaint denying all allegations of liability, asserting affirmative defenses, and demanding judgment on the merits dismissing the Amended Complaint. Two of the original plaintiffs, James Winn and Marvin Gill, requested that they be relieved of their obligations under the Settlement agreement. On September 9, 2003, the Court entered an Order removing plaintiffs James Winn and Marvin Gill as Class representatives in this litigation, and further ordered that plaintiff Robert Winn shall continue as the Class representative.
On June 30, 2002, the Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint (the “Amended Complaint”) on behalf of themselves and all other purchasers of the common stock of Symons and/or Goran from February 27, 1998 through and including November 18, 1999. In the Amended Complaint, the Plaintiffs brought claims for violations of Section 20(a) and 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The Plaintiffs alleged that defendants Symons and Goran, their accountants (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Schwartz Levitsky Feldman, LLP) and individual officers and directors made material misrepresentations or omissions of fact to the investing public in their press releases, reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and widely disseminated news reports and articles regarding the lack of necessary internal controls and the unreliability of their financial statements. Specifically, the Plaintiffs alleged that defendants aggressively built a portfolio: (1) in the nonstandard automobile and crop insurance business without a sufficiently operational and integrated computer system, and (2) in the newly developed agriculture business interruption insurance area without any testing, loss experience or reinsurance and without sufficient internal controls to properly measure the amount of reserves required in either business area.
The original plaintiffs' complaint alleges, among other things, that defendants violated the federal securities laws by issuing to the investing public reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, financial statements, press releases and other public statements which falsely and misleadingly represented the reliability of Symons' and/or Goran's reported financial statements and results, data processing and financial reporting systems, internal controls and/or loss reserves, thereby causing the market price of the common stock of Symons and Goran to be artificially inflated throughout the Class Period.