Judge issues stay; SRHS pension plan will be funded into March

Judge issues stay; SRHS pension plan will be funded into March

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A federal judge has issued an order that requires Singing River Health System to pay all retirees the benefits they're owed. That order is for 90 days. And it began December 15, 2014. Between the middle of December and the middle of March, the court order says the SRHS pension plan "shall not be terminated and/or dissolved." It also says Singing River Health System can't "take any further action to affect the operation or status of the Plan, including, but not limited to, implementing termination of the Plan."

Singing River Health System had planned to liquidate the pension plan. But, attorneys for several retirees quickly filed court papers asking that any decision about the pension plan's future be put on hold. That's what this 90 day court order does.

The health system and Jackson County supervisors are also discussing what to do with the pension plan. Because of those discussions, this court order says if the two groups "extend their current Memorandum of Agreement regarding the Plan, counsel for Plaintiffs and Defendants will meet and confer in good faith regarding the possible extension of this ninety (90) day stay."

In recent days, talks about destroying pension plan documents have surfaced. The court order signed by federal judge Louis Guirola prevents that from happening. Singing River Health System, the order says, must agree "to preserve any and all documents that are directly or indirectly related to the subject of this litigation."

Singing River Health System officials admit the pension plan has been underfunded for years. They also admit SRHS stopped contributing to the plan in 2009.

This week, Jackson County supervisors asked current members of the Singing River Health System board of trustees to resign. But, Wednesday, trustees said they would not step down.

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