Two shareholders of NewAlliance Bancshares in New Haven filed class actions last week asking a judge to block the company's proposed sale to First Niagara Financial Group of Buffalo.

Shareholders Cynthia Kos and Stanley Kops filed separate lawsuits in Connecticut Superior Court, claiming NewAlliance and its board of directors violated their fiduciary duty by conspiring to sell the company to enrich themselves.

A copy of Kos' suit, posted on the website of the New Haven Independent, alleged the defendants are "engaging in self-dealing, are obtaining for themselves personal benefits, including personal financial benefits, not shared equally by [the] plaintiff[s] … and choosing not to provide shareholders with all information necessary to make an informed decision in connection with" the deal.

A NewAlliance spokesman referred a request for comment to First Niagara. First Niagara spokeswoman Leslie Garrity said such lawsuits are typical in these types of transactions. "We do not believe it has any merit," Garrity said.

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