Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

First Oklahoma Claims It Had Right to Funds / from Pension Plan

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

First Oklahoma Claims It Had Right to Funds / from Pension Plan

Article excerpt

First Oklahoma Bancorporation Inc. claims it had a legal right to surplus assets remaining when the company's pension plan was terminated in July 1984.

First Oklahoma has requested a dismissal of claims made in a lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in April. Naming 57 defendants, the suit alleged $14.1 million was withdrawn from the first pension plan after it was terminated.

The plaintiffs, 51 retirees and former employees of First National Bank & Trust Co. of Oklahoma City, have not recieved funds from the plans since the bank failed on July 14, 1986.

Plaintiffs allege the funds withdrawn from the plan terminated in July 1984 and a new pension plan started in August 1984 were used to assist the failing bank through investments in First Oklahoma Bancorporation stock. They also believe the new pension plan, dated Aug. 1, 1984, was never submitted to, approved or qualified with the Internal Revenue Service.

First National Bank was a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Oklahoma.

James J. Cairns Jr., the chairman, president and chief executive officer of the bank in the last six-and-a-half months before it failed, is also a defendant in the case. He filed a motion to dismiss claims against him contending, among other things, he was not a fiduciary of the plan merely because of his position with the bank and holding company.

Most of the defenses and reasons given for dismissal by First Oklahoma are technical, rather than substantive, according to John R. McCandless, the plaintiff's attorney. About 10 other motions for dismissal have been filed with the court and are similar in content, he said.

The decision to terminate the first pension plan was not in violation of "fiduciary duty" or "prohibited transactions" provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1984, First Oklahoma contended.

The motion to dismiss primarily argued the plaintiffs failed to state a claim, in nearly every count, on which it was suing the defendants.

First Oklahoma said claims under the federal securities laws should be dismissed becaused the plaintiffs, as participants and/or beneficiaries of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1984 plan, are not purchasers or sellers of stock and therefore do not have standing to bring a lawsuit on securities fraud. …

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