Merrill Lynch & Co.’s top lawyer is confident that remaining class-action lawsuits against the firm brought by investors who lost money during the dot-com boom of 1990s will be dismissed, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters on Thursday.
Rosemary Berkery, Merrill’s general counsel, offered the assessment to staff in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon based on recent rulings by U.S. District Judge Milton Pollack. Pollack earlier this week threw out three class-action suits brought by investors who blamed Merrill for stock market losses during the bubble of the late 1990s.
“Although the dismissals apply only to these three class actions, we believe the reasoning of the decisions is equally applicable to other research-related class actions as well,” Berkery wrote.
Merrill still faces 24 class-action lawsuits from investors related to its research on Internet stocks during the dot-com craze. The cases are being closely watched because they concern issues central to a Wall Street stock research scandal settled in a $1.4 billion agreement with regulators in April.
“We are gratified that the Court agreed with our position on these matters,” Berkery said in the memo. “Nevertheless, we remain mindful that we did not always fully live up to our ideals during this period.”
Investors claimed their losses from those two companies — whose shares now trade for less than a dollar apiece — resulted from overly optimistic research reports issued by Merrill.
On Wednesday, Judge Pollack dismissed a similar class- action lawsuit filed by investors who lost money in Merrill’s Global Technology fund.