Simmons Hanly Conroy settles Merrill Lynch class action for more than $20 million

United States District Judge Alison J. Nathan recently approved settlement of a nationwide class action brought against Merrill Lynch by Simmons Hanly Conroy and co-counsel on behalf of some 1,100 former Merrill Lynch financial advisors who were denied deferred compensation benefits upon the acquisition of the company in 2009 by Bank of America. The complex case involved difficult issues of contract interpretation in the context of class certification, and pitted Simmons Hanly Conroy and Alabama co-counsel McCallum, Hoaglund, Cook & Irby, LLP against powerhouse defense firms Reed Smith and Morgan Lewis. The settlement involved approximately $20 million in cash moving from Merrill Lynch to the financial advisors, and included a separate payment of attorneys’ fees and costs by Merrill to Simmons Hanly Conroy and McCallum in the amount of approximately $5.2 million. Payments to the class members and to Simmons Hanly Conroy and McCallum were made on June 26, 2013. The case was captioned Chambers v. Merrill Lynch et al., 10-CV-07109 (AJN) (S.D.N.Y. 2013).