Thursday, August 04, 2016

Settlement Reached In Two ERISA Church Plan Cases

Bloomberg Law reports that Trinity Health Corp. has agreed to settle two class action lawsuits that claim the health care company's pension plans have been wrongly treated as "Church Plans" exempt from ERISA.  The Class Action Settlement Agreement (full text) still must be approved by the court.  The Agreement which covers Lann v. Trinity Health and Chavies v. Catholic Health East and was filed in Maryland federal district court is summarized by Bloomberg Law:
The settlement requires Trinity Health to contribute $75 million among nine different pension plans within the Trinity Health umbrella, including the plan for Catholic Health East, which merged with Trinity in 2014.... Trinity also agreed to run the pension plans in compliance with certain federal funding requirements and worker protection laws for the next 15 years....
In addition to making three $25 million pension plan contributions, the settlement requires Trinity to pay 219 individual employees $550 each to compensate them for benefits they allegedly lost by taking lump sum pension distributions in 2014.
In a similar vein, Trinity will distribute $1.3 million among the 7,371 former employees who allegedly forfeited certain benefits as a result of the pension plans' vesting requirements, which employees argued violated ERISA.
The settlement allows class counsel to seek up to $8 million in attorneys' fees, expenses and incentive awards for certain plaintiffs.