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JURY RETURNS $88 MILLION CLASS-ACTION VERDICT AGAINST UNIT OF KEMPER SECURITIES, INC.

 PHILADELPHIA, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- A jury in Federal District Court in Portland, Ore., returned a class-action verdict of $88 million late today against Boettcher & Co., a Kemper Securities, Inc. subsidiary, for misrepresenting the financial viability and business competence of Melridge, Inc., a bulb and cut flower company.
 The verdict is believed to be the largest ever in Oregon and is one of the more sizable verdicts rendered in a Federal securities class- action.
 The class-action was brought on behalf of both institutional and individual investors, who were represented by Merrill Davidoff of Berger & Montague of Philadelphia and Robert Stoll and Gary Berne of Stoll, Stoll, Berne & Lokting of Portland.
 Boettcher is responsible for approximately $57.5 million of the damages, plus legal fees and interest on some claims. Other defendants in the case, including Price Waterhouse, the Netherlands unit of Grant Thornton, Melridge's former law firm and some of Melridge's former officers and directors were responsible for the remaining portion of the verdict and paid $25 million in prior settlements.
 Boettcher was the lead underwriter for Melridge in a series of offerings that were at issue in this case. The recovery is for purchasers of stock and debentures sold or traded from November 1983 to October 1987.
 The plaintiffs in the class-action contended that the offerings of Melridge, a Portland-based firm now in bankruptcy, were worthless.
 In assessing the significance of the verdict, Mr. Davidoff, the plaintiffs' counsel, said: "This vindicates hundreds of individual investors who strongly believed that Boettcher & Co. exploited the securities markets in selling essentially worthless securities to the public. It also demonstrates the vital importance of the Federal securities laws in protecting investors and the integrity of the financial markets."
 -0- 5/27/93
 /CONTACT: Merrill Davidoff, or Daniel Berger, both of Berger & Montague, day 215-875-3026, or night 215-545-2994, or Jim Grossman of Howard J. Rubenstein Associates, Inc., 212-489-6900, for Berger & Montague/


CO: Boettcher & Co., Kemper Securities, Inc., Melridge, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU:

LD -- NY111 -- 3229 05/27/93 22:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 27, 1993
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