Wal-Mart Bribery Case Creeps Along in Court

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jul. 21, 2014 12:00 am  

A U.S. District Court judge in Arkansas ruled last month that a lawsuit filed in 2012 against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its directors over allegations of bribery in Mexico can move forward.

Wal-Mart wanted the case stayed until a lawsuit with similar allegations made further progress in the court system in Delaware, where Wal-Mart is incorporated.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Hickey wrote in her order that the Delaware case is tied up in the appeals process.

“The action in this Court has already been delayed at least two years,” she wrote. “Given the delays that have occurred in the Delaware action since the Court issued the stay order in this case, the Court is no longer convinced that a stay in this case promotes the interests of judicial economy. Further, the Court is obliged to allow this case to proceed in an expeditious manner.”

A spokesman for Wal-Mart said in an email to Arkansas Business last week that Hickey’s ruling was procedural and had nothing to do with the merits of the case.

“Wal-Mart takes its responsibility to shareholders very seriously,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove. “The allegations against the company have been the subject of an ongoing, thorough internal investigation that has not yet reached final conclusion. It would be inappropriate to comment further.”

After Hickey’s ruling, Wal-Mart filed a motion on July 3 to have the case thrown out for a number of reasons, including that the shareholders should have lodged their complaint with Wal-Mart’s board before turning to the court.

Attorney John Emerson of Houston, one of the attorneys representing the shareholders in the Arkansas case, declined to comment on the motion to dismiss, but said he would be filing a response soon.



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