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Portfolio > Mutual Funds

Class Action Lawsuit Filed against Appalachian Trails and Pilgrim

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NEW YORK (–Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP named hedge fund Appalachian Trails and its co-founder and general partner as defendants in a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit, on behalf of investors in 18 PBHG mutual funds, also names the funds’ manager, Pilgrim Baxter & Associates Ltd., Wayne, Pa.; Pilgrim Baxter founder Gary L. Pilgrim and Harold J. Baxter; Wall Street Discount Corp. and its head; each of the PBHG mutual funds; and 100 unnamed individuals involved in the alleged mutual fund timing trades.

Milberg has been involved in a number of other mutual fund cases, according to an announcement from the firm. Firms such as Janus, Strong Funds, Putnam Mutual Funds and Bank One are mentioned.

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed a compliant last week against Pilgrim Baxter in an ongoing mutual fund timing investigation that involves Mr. Pilgrim. Mr. Pilgrim was the manager of the PBHG Growth fund and at the same time was among the first investors in Appalachian Trails LP and maintained a substantial ownership interest in Appalachian .

Mr. Spitzer’s compliant alleges that, with the knowledge and consent of Chairman and CEO Harold Baxter, Appalachian was allowed to “feverishly” trade in and out of the PBHG Growth Fund and to trade in other funds. The New York State Attorney General’s office also charges that Appalachian made trades on nearly 100 exchanges into and out of the PBHG Growth Fund in 2000 and 2001, resulting in shareholders in the PBHG Growth fund possibly losing more than 60% of their investment.

Milberg’s lawsuit names Appalachian Trails’ Michael Christiani as co-founder, general partner and manager of Appalachian Trails and “an active participant in the unlawful scheme.”

The complaint also places the blame on false information generated from Pilgrim Baxter. The mutual fund’s prospectus states that the firm “actively safeguards shareholders from the harmful effects of timing,” according to Milberg. Attorney’s characterized the mutual fund company’s policy as one of “selective enforcement.”

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