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July 21, 2005
Shell Settles ERISA Suit for $90M

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The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by U.S. employees who are enrolled in company retirement plans.

The lawsuit came after the Anglo-Dutch oil company shocked investors last year by confessing that its oil and gas reserves were around 25 percent lower than previously stated.

The scandal cost the company almost $150 million in fines imposed by U.S. and British regulators, the firing of three senior executives, and the employee lawsuit, brought under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

The employees alleged that the inflated reserves statement cost their savings plans $120 million.

"This really is a great settlement," David Scott, a Connecticut lawyer representing the employees, told the Houston Chronicle. "Dollar for dollar, this is huge."

Exactly which Shell employees will get paid--and how much each will receive--remains to be seen, the Chronicle reported. But potentially, thousands of Shell's 22,000 U.S. workers could receive money. Half of them are based in Houston.

Final approval of the settlement, which will spell out which employees are eligible for payments, should come in an Aug. 28 hearing in a federal court in New Jersey.

Shell issued a statement that called the settlement "good?for plan participants and for the companies." It added: "We are hopeful that the court will approve the settlement, which represents an important step toward putting litigation relating to the reserves recategorizations behind us."


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