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Employees of bankrupt United Air Lines Inc. have been cleared to proceed with a class action against the airline’s employee stock ownership plan and its trustees. The suit, filed in 2003, alleges that the ESOP and plan trustee State Street Bank & Trust Co. failed in their duties to employees. The ESOP and State Street held the stock in 2001 even though it knew the shares were unstable, according to the suit. The trustee even placed the stock on a watch list prior to Sept. 11, according to plaintiff law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. “ESOP committee members have a strict and absolute duty to represent the interests of the ESOP investors,” said Hagens Berman managing partner Steve Berman in a statement. The firm said it is representing an estimated 70,000 employees in the suit. “Well before Sept. 11, UAL stock was in a free fall,” Berman said. “We intend to show that, had State Street and the plan trustees done their jobs responsibly, employees would have escaped financial devastation.” The ruling allows the plaintiff’s attorneys to continue with the discovery process. No trial date has been set. State Street did not return calls seeking comment. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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