Two weeks ago Special Master Britt Singletary told retirees “very shortly, there’ll be an announcement and it will be 100 percent.” Details about the proposed settlement are now coming to light and the proposal is very similar to the one Singing River made in January for 88% funding.
Singing River Health System, Jackson County, and one group of plaintiffs are proposing a settlement that could affect all pension plan participants. The proposal is for Singing River to contribute $138 million, Jackson County to contribute $13 million, and plaintiffs’ attorneys to be compensated nearly $6.5 million. There is no provision for “100 percent” funding or for how payments should be fairly distributed among retirees. Such decisions would be handled between the plan trustee and the chancery court.
Both sides are asking the federal judge to certify that just a few plaintiffs are allowed to represent the interests of all plan members. The implementation and oversight of the settlement would then be handed over to the Jackson County Chancery Court. The settlement proposal leaves open the possibility for reductions of pension payments and for termination of the plan. This would be subject to approval of the chancery court.
The proposal also calls for the creation of a four member oversight authority to oversee the operations and management of the health system. Authority members would be appointed by a Jackson County Chancery Court judge.
Singing River has agreed to contribute $138 million spread out over 35 years:
- No contribution in 2015
- $1.2 million from 2016-2019
- $3 million from 2020-2023
- $4.5 million from 2024-2051
Jackson County will contribution $13 million over eight years:
- $2 million upon settlement
- $3.2 million in 2016
- $1.2 million 2017-2023
Plaintiffs’ attorneys would be compensated $6.45 million over three years:
- $3.45 million in 2016
- $1.5 million in 2017 & 2018