This excerpt taken from the WYN 8-K filed Jul 19, 2006.
LegalCendant Corporate Litigation
Pursuant to the Separation and Distribution Agreement we agreed to be responsible for 37.5% (or 30% if the sale of Travelport is not completed) of the contingent and other corporate liabilities (and related costs and expenses) related to the Cendant litigation described below.
After the April 15, 1998 announcement of the discovery of accounting irregularities in the former CUC business units, and prior to the issuance of this information statement, approximately 70 lawsuits claiming to be class actions and other proceedings were commenced against Cendant and other defendants, of which a number of lawsuits have been settled. Approximately six lawsuits remain unresolved in addition to the matters described below.
In Re Cendant Corporation Litigation, Master File No. 98-1664 (WHW) (D.N.J.), which we refer to as the Securities Action, is a consolidated class action brought on behalf of all persons who acquired securities of Cendant and CUC, except the PRIDES securities, between May 31, 1995 and August 28, 1998. Named as defendants are Cendant; 28 current and former officers and directors of Cendant, CUC and HFS Incorporated; and Ernst & Young LLP, or Ernst & Young, CUCs former independent accounting firm.
The Amended and Consolidated Class Action Complaint in the Securities Action alleges that, among other things, the lead plaintiffs and members of the class were damaged when they acquired securities of Cendant and CUC because, as a result of accounting irregularities, Cendants and CUCs previously issued financial statements were materially false and misleading, and the allegedly false and misleading financial statements caused the prices of Cendants and CUCs securities to be inflated artificially.
On December 7, 1999, Cendant announced that it had reached an agreement to settle claims made by class members in the Securities Action for approximately $2,850 million in cash plus 50% of any net recovery Cendant receives from Ernst & Young as a result of Cendants cross-claims against Ernst & Young as described below. This settlement received all necessary court approvals and was fully funded by Cendant on May 24, 2002.
On January 25, 1999, Cendant asserted cross-claims against Ernst & Young that alleged that Ernst & Young failed to follow professional standards to discover, and recklessly disregarded, the accounting irregularities and is therefore liable to Cendant for damages in unspecified amounts. The cross-claims assert claims for breaches of Ernst & Youngs audit agreements with Cendant, negligence, breaches of fiduciary duty, fraud and contribution. On July 18, 2000, Cendant filed amended cross-claims against Ernst & Young asserting the same claims.
On March 26, 1999, Ernst & Young filed cross-claims against Cendant and certain of Cendants present and former officers and directors that alleged that any failure by Ernst & Young to discover the accounting irregularities was caused by misrepresentations and omissions made to Ernst & Young in the course of its audits and other reviews of Cendants financial statements. Ernst & Youngs cross-claims assert claims for breach of contract, fraud, fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation and contribution. Damages in unspecified amounts are sought for the costs to Ernst & Young associated with defending the various shareholder lawsuits, lost business it claims is attributable to Ernst & Youngs association with Cendant and for harm to Ernst & Youngs reputation. On June 4, 2001, Ernst & Young filed amended cross-claims against Cendant asserting the same claims.
Welch & Forbes, Inc. v. Cendant Corp., et al., No. 98-2819 (WHW), which we refer to as the PRIDES Action, is a consolidated class action filed on behalf of purchasers of Cendants PRIDES securities between February 24 and August 28, 1998. Named as defendants are Cendant; Cendant Capital I, a statutory business trust formed by Cendant to participate in the offering of PRIDES securities; 17 current and former officers and directors of Cendant, CUC and HFS; Ernst & Young; and the underwriters for the PRIDES offering, Merrill Lynch & Co., Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Chase Securities Inc. The allegations in the Amended Consolidated Complaint in the PRIDES Action are substantially similar to those in the Securities Action.
On March 17, 1999, Cendant entered into an agreement to settle the claims of class members in the PRIDES Action who purchased PRIDES securities on or prior to April 15, 1998. The settlement did not resolve claims based upon purchases of PRIDES on and after April 16, 1998 and, as of December 31, 2001, other than Welch & Forbes, Inc. v. Cendant Corp., et al., which is previously discussed, no purchasers of PRIDES securities after April 16, 1998 have instituted proceedings against Cendant.
On October 28, 2005, Cendant reached a settlement that resolved the claims of class members who purchased PRIDES on and after April 16, 1998. To settle these claims, Cendant has agreed to pay $32.5 million in cash plus 3.5% of any net recovery from litigation Cendant is pursuing against Ernst & Young, auditors for the former CUC, arising from the accounting irregularities. The cash payment plus interest, which accrued on the cash settlement from January 27, 2006, when the court approved the settlement in all respects, at the federal funds rate applicable at that time, was made in March 2006.
Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., et al., Civ. Action No. 98-5384 (D.N.J.), and P. Schoenfield Asset Management LLC v. Cendant Corp., et al., Civ. Action No. 98-4734 (D.N.J.), which we refer to as the ABI Actions, were initially commenced in October and November of 1998, respectively, on behalf of a putative class of persons who purchased securities of American Bankers Insurance Group, Inc., which we refer to as ABI, between January 27, 1998 and October 13, 1998. Named as defendants are Cendant, four former CUC officers and directors and Ernst & Young. The complaints in the ABI Actions, as amended on February 8, 1999, assert violations of Sections 10(b), 14(e) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act. The plaintiffs allege that they purchased shares of ABI common stock at prices artificially inflated by the accounting irregularities after Cendant announced a cash tender offer for 51% of ABIs outstanding shares of common stock in January 1998. Plaintiffs also allege
that after the disclosure of the accounting irregularities, Cendant misstated its intention to complete the tender offer and a second step merger pursuant to which the remaining shares of ABI stock were to be acquired by Cendant. Plaintiffs seek, among other things, unspecified compensatory damages. On April 30, 1999, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed the complaints on motions of the defendants. In an opinion dated August 10, 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit vacated the district courts judgment and remanded the ABI Actions for further proceedings. On December 15, 2000, Cendant filed a motion to dismiss those claims based on ABI purchases after April 15, 1998, and the district court granted this motion on May 7, 2001. The plaintiffs subsequently moved for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint to reallege claims based on ABI purchases between April 16, 1998 and October 13, 1998. That motion was denied on August 15, 2002. On January 27, 2004, plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification. On April 4, 2006, Cendant entered into an agreement to settle this matter for $22 million. A hearing to approve the settlement has been scheduled for July 24, 2006.
The settlements and actions described above do not encompass six additional claims against Cendant relating to accounting irregularities. We cannot give any assurance as to the final outcome or resolution of these unresolved proceedings. An adverse outcome from certain unresolved proceedings could be material with respect to earnings in any given reporting period. However, we do not believe that the impact of such unresolved proceedings should result in a material liability to us in relation to our consolidated financial position or liquidity.
We and Cendant are subject to income taxes in the United States and several foreign jurisdictions. The IRS is currently examining Cendants taxable years 1998 through 2002 during which our business was included in Cendants tax returns. Over the course of the audit, we and Cendant have responded to various requests for information, primarily focused on the 1999 statutory merger of Cendants former fleet business; the calculation of the stock basis in the 1999 sale of a Cendant subsidiary; and the deductibility of expenses associated with the shareholder class action litigation resulting from the merger with CUC. To date, we and Cendant have not agreed to any IRS proposed adjustments related to these matters. Although we and Cendant believe there is appropriate support for the positions taken on its tax returns, we and Cendant have recorded liabilities representing the best estimates of the probable loss on certain positions. We and Cendant believe that the accruals for tax liabilities are adequate for all open years, based on assessment of many factors including past experience and interpretations of tax law applied to the facts of each matter. Although we and Cendant believe the recorded assets and liabilities are reasonable, tax regulations are subject to interpretation and tax litigation is inherently uncertain; therefore, our and Cendants assessments can involve both a series of complex judgments about future events and rely heavily on estimates and assumptions. While we and Cendant believe that the estimates and assumptions supporting the assessments are reasonable, the final determination of tax audits and any other related litigation could be materially different than that which is reflected in historical income tax provisions and recorded assets and liabilities. Based on the results of an audit or litigation, a material effect on our income tax provision, net income, or cash flows in the period or periods for which that determination is made could result.