The U.S. District Court named the University of California lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit against senior executives of the Enron Corporation and the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen LLP on Feb. 15, after the UC joined the suit Dec. 21.

The decision was based on a number of financial and legal factors such as the amount of loss each plaintiff sustained as a result of Enron investments and ability to coordinate the litigation. As the lead plaintiff, the UC will help manage and monitor litigation, which could take several years. There are hundreds of institutions and individuals involved in the case and 10 had petitioned for the lead plaintiff position.

“The University of California is honored to be selected as lead plaintiff,” UC General Counsel James Holst said. “We take up this responsibility with the deepest sense of obligation not only to the UC family of employees, retirees and students, but to the millions of Americans who vigorously pursue this litigation with the shared goal of securing substantial recovery for all shareholders.

The UC lost almost $145 million in the Enron stock plunge, which is 0.3 percent of its total investments.

“The loss will have no impact upon the retirement benefits provided to UC retirees and the endowment’s support of the University’s academic and research mission,” UC Treasurer David Russ said. “Nonetheless, the University feels a strong obligation to recover monies that rightfully belong to the University, its employees and the other class members.”

The UC chose Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, one of the country’s largest class action law firms, as its counsel for the suit.