We continue to see kinds of legal fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis and the economy. According to this report from Reuters, Merrill Lynch is spending $75 million to settle an ERISA action relating to the offer of its stock as an investment option in the company retirement plan.
The plaintiffs had alleged that Merrill offered its stock as a retirement plan option when it was "imprudent" to do so, given the company's growing exposure to subprime mortgages and other toxic debt.
The stock lost much of its value.
The plaintiffs' theory was that the offer of company stock, knowing of its precarious value, ran counter to the purpose of a retirement plan.
Lessons? If you're an employer, don't use your retirement plan to ask your employees to help finance your operations. If you're a worker, never ever put a significant portion of your retirement money in company stock.