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DECISIONS CIVIL PRACTICE where a parallel criminal prosecution was reasonably anticipated, the Alabama Supreme Court on July 11 granted a petition to stay a securities suit against the ex-CEO of WorldCom Inc. Ex parte Ebbers, Ex parte Salomon Smith Barney Inc., nos. 1020931, 1021008. Public corporations that deemed themselves “the retirement systems of Alabama” (RSA) brought suit under the Securities Act of 1933 against defendants, including former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers. The suit alleged that the defendants issued misleading financial reports and statements that caused RSA to purchase WorldCom securities and incur losses of more than $275 million. Although Ebbers has been the subject of a related ongoing criminal investigation, the trial court denied his motion to stay the civil claims against him. Finding that the trial court exceeded its discretion, Alabama’s high court ruled that Ebbers was at a risk for self-incrimination if he were to be subjected to the broad discovery permissible in civil cases. Because there was a possibility that prosecutors would seek criminal charges against him, it ruled that Ebbers was entitled to the stay.

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