SRHS approves pension lawsuit settlement deal, but others must s - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

SRHS approves pension lawsuit settlement deal, but others must sign off

Singing River Health officials said the plaintiffs involved in the settlement deal that trustees approved on Tuesday have not agreed to the deal as of yet.  (Photo source: WLOX) Singing River Health officials said the plaintiffs involved in the settlement deal that trustees approved on Tuesday have not agreed to the deal as of yet.  (Photo source: WLOX)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Singing River Health System has agreed to go along with a settlement deal involving some of the lawsuits the hospital is facing over its underfunded pension plan. The Board of Trustees voted to approve the deal on Tuesday that could help the hospital move past some of the pension lawsuits it's facing from retirees.

"The settlement agreement does deal with the federal class action case, as well as some state court cases," said Kelly Sessoms, an attorney for Singing River Health System. "The settlement agreement was approved by the Board of Trustees. The settlement agreements contents I can't disclose because we are under a confidentiality order and there are also other parties that need to sign off on that."  

Earl Denham is an attorney who represents hundreds of retirees. He said he's not included in these negotiations said hasn't been allowed to see what the agreement says. 

"If they were proud of what they're doing, they wouldn't hide it," said Denham. "They are going to try to make it applicable to all of us, but we are going to stop it. It's a dirty deal."

Jackson County is not a party in the lawsuits. At Monday's supervisors' meeting, some details of the negotiations were revealed by an attorney who is doing work on behalf of the county to deal with the hospital situation. 
 
Attorney Billy Guice said, "That agreement basically provides that the Singing River Hospital will pay $156 million into the pension fund over time. It's a long, technical, negotiated agreement that will go forward with a fairness hearing in the United States District Court before a federal judge to be implemented." 

Hospital trustees also voted on Tuesday to accept the county's offer to provide the hospital $13.6 million for indigent care and bond payments if some trustees resign. A turnaround firm is also allowed to scrutinize and tweak how SRHS handles its finances. However. hospital officials said that contribution agreement is only valid if this particular settlement goes through. 

"I can't speak for the individual trustees, but I think to get a settlement of the pension fund litigation would benefit all the ones concerned," said Sessoms. "A settlement of the pension fund litigation would benefit all the ones concerned - the retirees, the employees, and the system itself - so that the litigation can be resolved and the system can go forward in providing quality healthcare here in Jackson County and beyond." 

Singing River Health officials said the plaintiffs involved in the settlement deal that trustees approved on Tuesday have not agreed to the deal as of yet. 

Meanwhile, attorney Earl Denham said he has filed 50 lawsuits so far in Circuit Court and plans to file 200 more by mid-January, if not sooner. 

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