Summary of the Lawsuit
On September 2, 2022, Cohen Milstein and co-counsel filed a putative class action on behalf of participants and beneficiaries of the Southern Company Pension Plan, alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The complaint alleges that the Southern Company Pension Plan uses outdated mortality tables to determine the value of joint and survivor annuities and the amount it charges retirees for pre-retirement survivor annuities (known as the “QPSA charge”), resulting in married retirees receiving less than the actuarial equivalent of the benefit that ERISA protects. This lawsuit seeks to recover amounts due to members of the class, and to reform the Southern Company Pension Plan to fully comply with the protections ERISA affords to pension plan participants and their beneficiaries.
Class Action Allegations
As background, in a class action case, one or more individuals—called class representatives—file a lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other individuals who have similar legal claims. A class action allows the claims of a large number of people to be combined in one lawsuit and ensures that all similarly situated persons are treated equally. A judge must certify a case as a class action in order to protect all members of the class.
This lawsuit is brought on behalf of two groups of people:
- All participants and beneficiaries of the Southern Company Pension Plan who are receiving a joint and survivor annuity (or, for beneficiaries whose spouse died before commencing benefits, a pre-retirement survivor annuity) that is less than the value of the single life annuity available to unmarried participants, when converted to a joint and survivor annuity using the interest rates and mortality tables set forth in 26 U.S.C. § 417(e).
- All participants and beneficiaries of the Southern Company Pension Plan whose accrued benefit was reduced by a QPSA charge that was greater in magnitude than a QPSA charge calculated using the interest rates and mortality table set forth in 26 U.S.C. § 417(e).
Status of the Litigation
On September 2, 2022, Cohen Milstein and co-counsel filed Drummond, et al. v. Southern Company, Inc., et al., Case No. 2:22-cv-174-RWS, before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The Honorable Steve C. Jones will preside over the case.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I still join the litigation, even though a case has been filed with the court? Yes. We are actively talking to additional Southern Company retirees who may also want to assert their claims in litigation.
- Where do I sign up to join the litigation?
Please Contact Our Team for More Information
If you are a participant in the Southern Company Pension Plan who selected to receive a Joint and Survivor Annuity (JSA), or if you have information which might assist us in the prosecution of these allegations, please contact:
Eleanor Frisch, Esq. (email)
Michelle C. Yau, Esq. (email)
Daniel R. Sutter, Esq. (email)
Jillian Pincus, Paralegal (email)
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
1100 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005
Telephone: 888-240-0775 (Toll Free) or 202-408-4600