On March 2, 2015, Judge John L. Kane of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado issued an order for the distribution of net settlement funds for two class actions in which Cohen Milstein is Lead Counsel, and that were brought against AMT-Free Municipals Fund and Rochester Fund Municipals, as well as for four other actions within In re Oppenheimer Rochester Funds Group Securities Litigation, Master Docket No. 09-md-02063-JLK-KMT (D. Colo.), a consolidation of seven separate class actions. Litigation against the one remaining fund not addressed by the order for distribution of net settlement fund, California Municipal Fund, remains ongoing. The order for distribution came after Judge Kane’s granting on July 31, 2014 of final approval of six settlements, for a sum total of $89.5 million, in the consolidated class actions.
For the two actions in which Cohen Milstein is Lead Counsel, the settlements benefit a class of persons or entities who acquired shares of AMT-Free Municipals Fund between May 13, 2006 and October 21, 2008, inclusive, and/or shares of Rochester Fund Municipals between February 26, 2006 and October 21, 2008, inclusive, where shares in either instance are traceable to the respective registration statement.
On June 16, 2009 seven pending Oppenheimer municipal bond fund cases were consolidated for pretrial proceedings and captioned In re Oppenheimer Rochester Funds Group Securities Litigation. These municipal bond funds include: AMT-Free Municipals Fund, AMT-Free New York Municipals Fund, California Municipal Fund, New Jersey Municipal Fund, Pennsylvania Municipal Fund, Rochester Fund Municipals, and Rochester National Municipals Fund (referred to collectively as the “Funds”). Cohen Milstein was appointed Lead Counsel for the AMT-Free Municipals Fund and Rochester Fund Municipals actions on November 18, 2009.
On January 15, 2010, counsel in all seven actions filed amended complaints that charged OppenheimerFunds, Inc., OppenheimerFunds Distributor, Inc., the Funds, and certain trustees and officers with violations of the Federal securities laws, including violations of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which prohibits materially false and misleading statements in registration statements and prospectuses of the kind used to sell shares in the Funds. The complaints alleged that the Funds failed to disclose in their respective prospectuses and registration statements (“Offering Documents”) that they were not adhering to their overall conservative strategy and investment objectives and, instead, were taking risks inconsistent with such strategy and objectives. According to the complaints, as the risks associated with the Funds’ deviation from their conservative investment strategy and objectives materialized, the value of the Funds’ shares declined significantly. In October and November 2008, the Funds issued prospectus supplements alerting investors of the true liquidity risks of the Funds’ investments.
On October 24, 2011, the Court denied Defendants’ motions to dismiss with respect to Lead Plaintiffs’ claims for relief under Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the 1933 Act, and granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss with respect to Lead Plaintiffs’ claims under Section 13(a) of the Investment Company Act. Various Defendant Funds challenged the Court’s ruling by filing motions for reconsideration and interlocutory appeal, both of which were ultimately denied. Lead Plaintiffs and Defendants then engaged in substantial discovery practice, in a series of sequential phases: (1) core document discovery; (2) class certification discovery; (3) non-core document discovery; (4) merit depositions; and (5) expert discovery. This discovery practice resulted in the production and review of three million pages of documents and assisted counsel for Lead Plaintiffs in preparing motions for class certification. Lead Plaintiffs’ omnibus motion for class certification was filed on July 24, 2012. Defendants filed briefs in opposition to class certification and also filed their own motions for partial summary judgment. The motion for class certification and one of the two motions for partial summary judgment motions were still pending at the time of settlement.
After months of negotiations between Defendants and Lead Plaintiffs, as well as a two-day mediation session, the parties reached a settlement in principle on August 26, 2013. The settlement required Defendants to pay a total of $89.5 million to settle six of the seven consolidated actions, for which the Court granted final approval on July 31, 2014. Lead Counsel are currently overseeing the conclusion of the initial distribution of the net settlement proceeds.
Lead Plaintiffs in the AMT-Free Municipals Fund and Rochester Fund Municipals Actions are represented by Steven J. Toll, and S. Douglas Bunch, all of Cohen Milstein.