The settlement agreement filed in federal court marks a solid victory for Singing River. The hospital is setting forth a payment plan to return $149 million to the pension plan over the next 35 years and wants something sinister in exchange.
We find that this is a bum deal.
Judge Hilburn, who is presiding over concurrent cases in Jackson County Chancery Court, has already ruled that Singing River owes the pension trust for the money it failed to contribute from 2009 – 2014. It is now a matter of law that Singing River owes the money. It is estimated that this amount is $55 million.
It is apparent that Singing River doesn’t have $55 million to return to the pension plan. Instead, Singing River is asking the court to grant it a 35 year payment plan. They are also asking for something very big in return: the release of any and all claims against any trustee or employee of SRHS. This includes Chris Anderson, who is being sued individually in the case.
Rather than wringing our hands and saying “aww shucks, they got away” as is the Sun Herald editorial board. We suggest that employees of Singing River not be released from liability until it is learned the role they played in the demise of the plan.
Remember folks, Chris Anderson took every penny of his pension with him as a lump sum when he ran for the hills. If he he played a role in the demise of the pension, he should sacrifice along with retirees and employees.