Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Suit Seeks "Church Plan" Designation To Avoid Liability For Bankrupt Pension Plan

In Nashville (TN), an important charitable foundation, the Baptist Healing Trust Fund, last week filed a declaratory judgment action against the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation seeking to avoid potential liability to the PBGC in connection with the now-bankrupt retirement plan of the former Baptist Hospital. According to the complaint (full text) in Baptist Healing Hospital Trust v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, (MD TN, filed 1/12/2016), the charitable trust-- which received a substantial portion of the proceeds from the sale of Baptist Hospital in 2001-- seeks a ruling that the pension plan was an exempt "church plan" under ERISA so that the PBGC would have no jurisdiction to pursue claims on behalf of the plan. The PGBC is seeking arbitration to recover the $100 million still due to retirees.  The lawsuit also seeks a stay of the arbitration while the court determines the exempt status of the plan. Nashville Public Radio,  Nashville Post, and The Tennessean all report on the lawsuit.