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Joe M. Groussman, et al v. Motorola

November 15, 2011

JOE M. GROUSSMAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MOTOROLA, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. For the reasons stated below, the motion for class certification is denied.

BACKGROUND

During the period from July 1, 2007 through December 31, 2008, Plaintiffs were participants in the Motorola 401(k) Plan (Plan) for employees of Defendant Motorola, Inc. (Motorola). Defendants were allegedly all fiduciaries of the Plan. Defendants include certain individuals that were on Motorola's Board of Directors (collectively referred to as "Director Defendants"). Director Defendants allegedly delegated their responsibility to appoint the administrator of the Plan (Administrator Committee) to the Compensation Committee (Committee). In 2007, the Retirement Benefits Committee allegedly acted as the Administrator Committee. In 2008, the Retirement Benefits Committee was split into the Motorola 401(k) Plan Committee and the Motorola Pension Plan Committee. The Motorola 401(k) Plan Committee allegedly served as the Administrator Committee beginning in 2008. Defendants also include individuals that were members of the Administrator Committee (collectively referred to as "Administrator Defendants"). According to Plaintiffs, all Defendants controlled the management of the Plan investments. Defendants allegedly controlled which stock was available for Plan participants to invest in, and Defendants allegedly imprudently decided to continue to offer Motorola stock as an investment option in the Plan. Defendants allegedly breached their fiduciary duties by allegedly failing to conduct an appropriate investigation into whether Motorola stock was a prudent investment, failing to develop appropriate investment guidelines for the Plan, failing to divest the Plan of Motorola stock, failing to remove Motorola stock as an investment option for Plan participants, failing to consult with or appoint independent fiduciaries to investigate the wisdom of investing in Motorola stock, and failing to resign as fiduciaries of the Plan if they could not loyally serve the Plan and its participants. Defendants allegedly possessed negative information about Motorola's business and failed to either act based on such information in administering the Plan or communicate such information to Plan participants.

Defendants' alleged breaches of fiduciary duties allegedly caused millions of dollars in losses to the Plan and its participants. Plaintiffs include in their complaint claims brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq.,alleging a failure to prudently and loyally manage the Plan and Plan assets (Count I), ERISA claims based on a failure to provide complete and accurate information to Plan participants and beneficiaries (Count II), ERISA claims based on a failure to monitor Plan fiduciaries (Count III), ERISA claims based on a breach of the duty to avoid conflicts of interest (Count IV), and ERISA co-fiduciary liability claims (Count V). On October 7, 2010, the court granted Plaintiffs' oral motion to voluntarily dismiss Defendant Motorola Retirement Benefits Committee. The remaining Defendants moved to dismiss the instant action, and on January 18, 2011, the court denied the motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs now move for class certification in this case.

LEGAL STANDARD

A plaintiff can move for class certification pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) (Rule 23(a)), which provides the following:

(a) Prerequisites. One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members only if:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;

(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;

(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and

(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a). The Seventh Circuit has indicated that "[c]ertification as a class action can coerce a defendant into settling on highly disadvantageous terms regardless of the merits of the suit," and thus a class can be certified by a court only if the court is convinced "after a rigorous analysis, that the prerequisites of Rule 23(a) have been satisfied." CE Design Ltd. v. King Architectural Metals, Inc., 637 F.3d 721, 724 (7th Cir. 2011)(emphasis in original)(internal quotations omitted). The certification of a class in a case is "an exception to the usual rule that litigation is conducted by and on behalf of the individual named parties only." Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2550 (2011)(quoting Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 700-01 (1979)).

A court may certify a class if the "numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequate representation" requirements of Rule 23(a) are met and one of the requirements of Rule 23(b) are met. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b); Dukes, 131 S.Ct. at 2550; see also Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 513 (7th Cir. 2006)(stating that a "district court may certify a class of plaintiffs if the putative class satisfies all four requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)-numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation-and any one of the conditions of Rule 23(b)"); Payton v. County of Kane, 308 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2002)(stating that "a determination of the propriety of class certification should not turn on likelihood of success on the merits"); Keele v. Wexler, 149 F.3d 589, 592 (7th Cir. 1998)(stating that "[t]he Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide the federal district courts with broad discretion to determine whether certification of a class-action lawsuit is appropriate").

DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs seek to certify a proposed class consisting of all persons who were participants in, or beneficiaries of, the Plan at any time between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008 and whose accounts included investments in Motorola stock. (Mem. Cert. 1). Plaintiffs argue that they have satisfied the requirements of Rule 23(a) and the requirements of Rule 23(b)(1) and (3). (Mem. Cert. 1). Defendants argue that Plaintiffs have failed to satisfy the commonality or typicality requirements of Rule 23(a) or show that Plaintiffs ...


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