On July 28, 2008, after obtaining the Court’s leave, Plaintiff filed an amended Complaint (“Complaint”),
adding Named Plaintiffs Kevin Moses, James Coy, and Gwyn Moriarty as additional representatives of the Lump Sum Class, and adding Named Plaintiffs Linda Phillips, Thomas Small, Dwayne Cohen, and Steve Dison as representatives of a separate Restricted Participant Class (the “Restricted Participant Class”).
alleges that the Plan had failed to properly calculate lump sum distributions for members of the Lump Sum Class, and improperly denied the members of the Restricted Participant Class the opportunity to receive lump sum distributions because, as written and administered, the Plan, a defined benefit pension plan of the “cash balance” variety, unlawfully equated the participant’s lump sum distribution to the balance of the participant’s notional Account.
Plaintiffs contend that ERISA required the lump sum to be calculated as no less than the present value of the participant’s accrued benefit under the Plan projected to normal retirement age (age 65, under the Plan) using the Plan’s interest crediting rate, which has always equaled at least 7%.
According to the Complaint
, had the required projection been performed, and the participant’s resultant projected account balance converted into an annuity using the Plan’s annuity conversion factors before the participant’s benefit was reduced to a present value using the required statutory discount rate and mortality table, the actuarial equivalent of the participant’s accrued benefit would have been more than the account balance because the statutorily-prescribed discount rate was always lower than 7%.
Defendants timely filed their Answer
to the Complaint
on March 2, 2009 and deny all liability to Plaintiffs, the Lump Sum Class, and the Restricted Participant Class; dispute that the relief requested is available under the statute; dispute the amount of damages sought; contend all or most members of both Classes are time-barred; dispute causation and injury in the case of all or most members of the Restricted Participant Class and contend their claims must proceed, if at all, as individual actions.
Between November 2007 and August 2009, the parties had engaged in extensive discovery with respect to liability, damages, class certification and limitations, including taking sixteen (16) depositions and exchanging many thousands of documents, and issuing and answering dozens of interrogatories and requests for admission. The parties also engaged in considerable motions practice, regarding discovery, class certification and the merits.
Both sides filed motions for judgment on the pleadings in April and May 2009. They filed motions for summary judgment on September 15 and 16, 2009. Trial is scheduled for February 9, 2010.
A formal mediation held on October 1, 2009, attended by representatives of each of the two Classes and presided over by a professional mediator with expertise in large class action mediation. The November 6, 2009 Class Settlement Agreement
is the product of
both that mediation and subsequent negotiations between the parties.
Plaintiffs’ November 6, 2009 Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement
explains why Plaintiffs and Class Counsel believe that the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and in the best interests of the Lump Sum Class Members and the Restricted Participant Class Members.
In his Order of November 25, 2009
, Judge Martone gave preliminary approval to the proposed settlement, and authorized Mailed Notice
to be sent to members of the two Classes and Publication Notice
to be published in USA Today.
He has scheduled a final approval hearing for March 5, 2010 at 2:00 p.m.
The next step of the process is for the notices to be mailed, and the publication notice to be published, which must be completed by December 25, 2009.