Workers Court Date Is Set Against F G ESOP Trustees


    PEORIA — A trial date has been set in the workers’ suit against the pension plan trustees of Foster & Gallagher Inc., the former parent firm of the now-defunct Michigan Bulb Co.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge John Gorman set Dec. 2, 2002, as the starting day for a lawsuit brought by two Foster & Gallagher employees against principals of their Employee Stock Ownership Plan. U.S. District Judge Michael Mimi was assigned the case last week.

    Debra Ketch and Patricia Sage filed the suit in April on behalf of 4,000 employees enrolled in the company’s ESOP.

    They charged the U.S. Trust Co., the Northern Trust Co., Ellen Foster, Melvyn Regal, Terry Cole, Robert Ostertag Jr., Alan Dix and Jon Elletson with buying stock options from select stockholders at inflated prices, and then leaving the plan’s participants with the monetary loss that arose from those purchases.

    Ostertag — a former Grand Rapids area resident — successively was the president of Michigan Bulb and, after that, of its owner, Foster & Gallagher. Ellen Foster is the widow of a founder and earlier Foster & Gallagher president.

    The plaintiffs contend the value of their ESOP fell from $82 million at the end of 1997 to $7 million a year later because of the defendants’ actions.

    The lawsuit seeks reimbursement of those dollars.

    The Peoria-based Foster & Gallagher filed for bankruptcy in Delaware last month.

    The company closed the three Grand Rapids area Michigan Bulb locations in late June, putting hundreds of employees out of work without health or pension benefits.

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