SRHS retirees take pension settlement fight to Supreme Court

SRHS retirees take pension settlement fight to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) - The attorneys representing more than 200 Singing River Health System retirees fighting the pension plan settlement have filed a petition with the Supreme Court of the United States asking to put the case on hold until the high court has ruled.

The petition asks the Supreme Court to halt the proceedings ordered by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding a class action settlement between SRHS and retirees over the health system's failed pension plan.

In July, the appeals court sent the pension settlement back to U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola for reconsideration. A three-judge panel did not reject the settlement, but did ask for some issues to be addressed, including the risk that the health system would not have enough money to pay all the retirees’ claims.

Under the settlement, the Jackson County-owned health system would pay nearly $150 million back into the plan by 2051. SRHS responded to the circuit court's ruling in October, touting the financial health of the system and saying it will have the ability to make all necessary payments to the pension fund.

According to court documents, retirees objecting to the settlement said if the circuit court's decision stands, it will violate their constitutional rights and deny them due process.

The filing to the U.S. Supreme Court claims the retirees will be caused "irreparable harm" if the circuit court's judgment is not halted, and the financial consequences could force thousands of people to lose their homes and livelihoods.

Furthermore, the petition urges justices to review the case because their decision could set a precedent over the obligations of government employers in the event of a breach of contract with employees.

Supporters of the settlement agreement have said only a small portion of the more than 3,100 members of the SRHS pension plan object to the settlement, and that during the court battle all current retirees are receiving 100 percent of their pension payments.

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