Judge Calls for Revision of $20 Million Payout in Bank of America Suit

Two pension funds that agreed to a relatively small settlement with the directors of Bank of America over its acquisition of Merrill Lynch are being ordered by a federal judge to strike a better deal beginning on Monday.

The judge, P. Kevin Castel, voiced clear reservations about the $20 million settlement in a ruling on Friday, concluding that fees requested by the lawyers for the two funds could consume “some, most or all” of the money. The deal was reached last spring, months before two other pension funds in a separate lawsuit negotiated a $2.4 billion settlement with the bank over the Merrill purchase.

Lawyers representing the pension funds in the $20 million settlement — the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System and the Hollywood Police Officers’ Retirement System, of Florida — last October asked the court to approve payments of as much as $13 million in legal fees, or 65 percent of the amount proposed under the settlement.

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