PricewaterhouseCoopers has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over the means by which it audited two collapsed Heartland Advisors mutual funds, the Associated Press reports. C. Oliver Burt III, the lawyer for the investors in the fund, disclosed that the settlement was for $8.25 million. Heartland earlier settled the case for $14 million and distributed the funds' remaining $30 million in assets to shareholders when the funds were liquidated.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has estimated that due to the fact that Heartland marked down the value of two funds back in 2000, between 10,000 and 11,000 shareholders lost about $80 million.

"Given the uncertain outcome of litigation, we made a business decision to settle the case for a fraction of the original claim without admitting any liability," said Pricewaterhouse spokesman Steven Silber.

U.S district Judge J.P. Stadtmueller must approve the settlement, which is not expected to happen before April, said Greg Felkamp, the judge's clerk.

Heartland officials await trial on a civil complaint filed by the SEC.

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