NEW YORK -- A federal judge has certified a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler AG as a class-action lawsuit, an early step in bringing their case to trial as a group, the German automaker confirmed Friday.
The automaker said the decision was expected and described it as a formality.
"The class-action certification is a routine matter and was not unexpected," a DaimlerChrysler spokesman said. "This is a formality which in no way prejudges the outcome of the case or the judge's decision about a possible hearing."
The shareholders are led by billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian and claim that they were lied to about the nature of the 1998 merger of Daimler-Benz AG and Chrysler Corp.
DaimlerChrysler has said investors were well informed about the deal, which it billed as a "merger of equals."
Delaware U.S. District Judge Joseph Farnan has set a trial date of Dec. 1.