SRHS attorneys reviewing motions asking pension trustees removal - - The News for South Mississippi

SRHS attorneys reviewing motions asking pension trustees removal for conflict of interest

Ocean Springs Hospital. (Image source: WLOX News) Ocean Springs Hospital. (Image source: WLOX News)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A tentative date has been set for a court hearing that could remove current trustees in charge of the financially struggling Singing River Health System retirement plan. The case could be heard in Jackson County Chancery court as early as February 20. A similar motion has been field in federal court. Attorneys allege those in charge of overseeing the pension have a conflict of interest.

Singing River Health System has a board of trustees that oversees the operation of the entire system and a board of trustees that oversees the pension fund. Lawyers for the retirees said some of those trustees are serving on both boards and attorneys said that's not right.

"The hospital has members of the board of trustees that also appoint the trustees for the pension plan. So when the hospital stopped putting money in the pension there was a conflict of interest," Attorney Cal Mayo said. "They need to come off and an independent trustee appointed, one with the sole focus of looking out for the best interest of the employees. "

Meanwhile in federal court, the attorneys for a second group of retirees are also calling for an independent trustee. Attorneys said a resolution passed by Singing Rivers' retirement plan committee back in November shows its members are not looking out for the retirees' best interest.

The resolution states in part:

"Whereas, the members of this Retirement Committee are individuals with a duty of loyalty to ROSH, each acting herein in his or her capacity as an officer of the SRHS Board of Trustees, as applicable, and not in any fiduciary capacity to the plan and/or its beneficiaries that any member of this Retirement Committee may has as a Plan Trustee or otherwise."

While the federal court motion doesn't ask for a specific independent trustee, the Jackson County Chancery court filing asks a judge to appoint former attorney general Mike Moore.

Moore told WLOX if he gets involved it would be free of charge and he would look at what could be done to help the retirees rather than focus on the restrictions. Moore said he has played a similar role when appointed to monitor a large subprime lender called Ameriquest after the company ran into trouble for its loan practices. 

Kelly Sessoms, Attorney for SRHS sent this statement, "SRHS is reviewing this motion and will formally respond to it according to the court's deadline for doing so. We look forward to stating our position as the litigation unfolds."   

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