Note 10. Contingencies
The Company is involved in a number of legal proceedings. The Company has made accruals with respect to these matters, where appropriate, which are reflected in the Company's Consolidated Financial Statements. For some matters, a liability is not probable or the amount cannot be reasonably estimated and therefore an accrual has not been made. However, where a liability is reasonably possible and material, such matters have been disclosed. The Company may enter into discussions regarding settlement of these matters, and may enter into settlement agreements, if it believes settlement is in the best interest of the Company's shareholders. Unless stated otherwise, the matters, or groups of related matters, discussed below, if decided adversely to or settled by the Company, individually or in the aggregate, may result in a liability material to the Company's financial condition or results of operations.
Wage-and-Hour Class Action: The Company is a defendant in Braun/Hummel v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a class action lawsuit commenced in March 2002 in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs allege that the Company failed to pay class members for all hours worked and prevented class members from taking their full meal and rest breaks. On October 13, 2006, a jury awarded back-pay damages to the plaintiffs of approximately $78 million on their claims for off-the-clock work and missed rest breaks. The jury found in favor of the Company on the plaintiffs' meal-period claims. On November 14, 2007, the trial judge entered a final judgment in the approximate amount of $188 million, which included the jury's back-pay award plus statutory penalties, prejudgment interest and attorneys' fees. By operation of law, post-judgment interest accrues on the judgment amount at the rate of six percent per annum from the date of entry of the judgment, which was November 14, 2007, until the judgment is paid, unless the judgment is set aside on appeal. On December 7, 2007, the Company filed its Notice of Appeal. The Company filed its opening appellate brief on February 17, 2009, plaintiffs filed their response brief on April 20, 2009, and the Company filed its reply brief on June 5, 2009. Oral argument was held before the Pennsylvania Superior Court of Appeals on August 19, 2009. On June 10, 2011, the court issued an opinion upholding the trial court's certification of the class, the jury's back pay award, and the awards of statutory penalties and prejudgment interest, but reversing the award of attorneys' fees. On September 9, 2011, the Company filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. On July 2, 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the Company's Petition. The Company served its opening brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on October 22, 2012, plaintiffs served their response brief on January 22, 2013, and the Company served its reply on February 28, 2013. A date for oral argument has not been scheduled by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Company believes it has substantial factual and legal defenses to the claims at issue, and plans to continue pursuing appellate review.
Gender Discrimination Class Actions: The Company is a defendant in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., which was commenced as a class-action lawsuit in June 2001 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, asserting that the Company had engaged in a pattern and practice of discriminating against women in promotions, pay, training, and job assignments, and seeking, among other things, injunctive relief, front pay, back pay, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees. On June 21, 2004, the district court issued an order granting in part and denying in part the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. As defined by the district court, the class included "[a]ll women employed at any Wal-Mart domestic retail store at any time since December 26, 1998, who have been or may be subjected to Wal-Mart's challenged pay and management track promotions policies and practices." The Company appealed the order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and subsequently to the United States Supreme Court. On June 20, 2011, the Supreme Court issued an opinion decertifying the class and remanding the case to the district court. On October 27, 2011, the plaintiffs' attorneys filed an amended complaint proposing a class of current and former female associates at the Company's California retail facilities, and the Company filed a motion to dismiss on January 13, 2012. On September 21, 2012, the court denied the motion. Under the current scheduling order, the plaintiffs are required to file their motion for class certification on or before April 11, 2013.
On October 28, 2011, the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Dukes case filed a similar complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas entitled Odle v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., proposing a class of current and former female associates employed in any Walmart region that includes stores located in the state of Texas. On October 15, 2012, the court in the Odle case granted the Company's motion to dismiss, dismissing with prejudice the plaintiffs' class-action allegations and the individual claims of the lead plaintiff, Stephanie Odle. On October 2, 2012, the plaintiffs' attorneys filed another similar complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee entitled Phipps v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., proposing a class of current and former female associates employed in "Region 43, centered in Middle and Western Tennessee." On February 20, 2013, the court in the Phipps case granted the Company's motion to dismiss, and dismissed the plaintiffs' class action allegations with prejudice. On October 4, 2012, the plaintiffs' attorneys filed another similar complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, entitled Love v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., proposing a class of current and former female associates employed in certain designated stores and clubs in regions centered in the state of Florida. On October 25, 2012, the Company filed a motion to dismiss the Florida complaint. Finally, on February 20, 2013, the plaintiffs' attorneys filed another similar complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, entitled Ladik v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., proposing a class of current and former female associates employed in "Region 14, which includes Wal-Mart retail stores located in parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan." On March 15, 2013, the Company filed its motion to dismiss the Wisconsin complaint. Management does not believe any possible loss or the range of any possible loss that may be incurred in connection with these matters will be material to the Company's financial condition or results of operations.
Hazardous Materials Investigations: On November 8, 2005, the Company received a grand jury subpoena from the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, seeking documents and information relating to the Company's receipt, transportation, handling, identification, recycling, treatment, storage and disposal of certain merchandise that constitutes hazardous materials or hazardous waste. The Company has been informed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California that it is a target of a criminal investigation into potential violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (the "RCRA"), the Clean Water Act and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Statute. This U.S. Attorney's Office contends, among other things, that the use of Company trucks to transport certain returned merchandise from the Company's stores to its return centers is prohibited by RCRA because those materials may be considered hazardous waste. The government alleges that, to comply with RCRA, the Company must ship from the store certain materials as "hazardous waste" directly to a certified disposal facility using a certified hazardous waste carrier. The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency subsequently joined in this investigation. The Company contends that the practice of transporting returned merchandise to its return centers for subsequent disposition, including disposal by certified facilities, is compliant with applicable laws and regulations. Management does not believe any possible loss or the range of any possible loss that may be incurred in connection with these matters will be material to the Company's financial condition or results of operations.
FCPA Investigation and Related Matters
The Audit Committee (the "Audit Committee") of the Board of Directors of the Company, which is composed solely of independent directors, is conducting an internal investigation into, among other things, alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA") and other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with foreign subsidiaries, including Wal-Mart de México, S.A.B. de C.V. ("Walmex"), and whether prior allegations of such violations and/or misconduct were appropriately handled by the Company. The Audit Committee and the Company have engaged outside counsel from a number of law firms and other advisors who are assisting in the on-going investigation of these matters.
The Company is also conducting a voluntary global review of its policies, practices and internal controls for FCPA compliance. The Company is engaged in strengthening its global anti-corruption compliance programs through appropriate remedial anti-corruption measures. In November 2011, the Company voluntarily disclosed that investigative activity to the U.S. Department of Justice (the "DOJ") and the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). Since the implementation of the global review and the enhanced anti-corruption compliance programs, the Audit Committee and the Company have identified or been made aware of additional allegations regarding potential violations of the FCPA. When such allegations are reported or identified, the Audit Committee and the Company, together with their third party advisors, conduct inquiries and when warranted based on those inquiries, open investigations. Inquiries or investigations regarding allegations of potential FCPA violations have been commenced in a number of foreign markets where the Company operates, including, but not limited to, Brazil, China and India.
The Company has been informed by the DOJ and the SEC that it is also the subject of their respective investigations into possible violations of the FCPA. The Company is cooperating with the investigations by the DOJ and the SEC. A number of federal and local government agencies in Mexico have also initiated investigations of these matters. Walmex is cooperating with the Mexican governmental agencies conducting these investigations. Furthermore, lawsuits relating to the matters under investigation have been filed by several of the Company's shareholders against it, certain of its current directors, certain of its former directors, certain of its current and former officers and certain of Walmex's current and former officers.
The Company could be exposed to a variety of negative consequences as a result of the matters noted above. There could be one or more enforcement actions in respect of the matters that are the subject of some or all of the on-going government investigations, and such actions, if brought, may result in judgments, settlements, fines, penalties, injunctions, cease and desist orders, debarment or other relief, criminal convictions and/or penalties. The shareholder lawsuits may result in judgments against the Company and its current and former directors and officers named in those proceedings. The Company cannot predict at this time the outcome or impact of the government investigations, the shareholder lawsuits, or its own internal investigations and review. In addition, the Company expects to incur costs in responding to requests for information or subpoenas seeking documents, testimony and other information in connection with the government investigations, in defending the shareholder lawsuits, and in conducting the review and investigations. These costs will be expensed as incurred. The Company incurred expenses of approximately $157 million during fiscal 2013 related to these matters. These matters may require the involvement of certain members of the Company's senior management that could impinge on the time they have available to devote to other matters relating to the business. The Company expects that there will be on-going media and governmental interest, including additional news articles from media publications on these matters, which could impact the perception among certain audiences of the Company's role as a corporate citizen.
The Company's process of assessing and responding to the governmental investigations and the shareholder lawsuits continues. While the Company believes that it is probable that it will incur a loss from these matters, given the on-going nature and complexity of the review, inquiries and investigations, the Company cannot reasonably estimate any loss or range of loss that may arise from these matters. Although the Company does not presently believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on its business, given the inherent uncertainties in such situations, the Company can provide no assurance that these matters will not be material to its business in the future.