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Citgo Retirees Secure Amended Class Cert. in ERISA Suit


June 10, 2024

An Illinois federal judge greenlighted class status to retired Citgo employees who accused the company of shortchanging them by using outdated metrics to calculate early retirement payouts, saying the former employees properly winnowed down the class definition.

In an order Friday, U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly signed off on an amended class of Citgo retirees in their Employee Retirement Income Security Act suit against the company, its benefits committee and its retirement plans.

When Citgo converted retirees’ benefits from a single life annuity, or SLA, to a joint and survivor annuity, or JSA — which provides benefits to a retiree’s spouse in the event of the retiree’s death — it relied on mortality tables from the 1970s to make those calculations, the former Citgo employees alleged in their August 2021 lawsuit.

The Citgo retirees leading the suit — Leslie Urlaub, Mark Pellegrini and Mark Ferry — said that faulty math led them and other former employees to receive a smaller payout than they were owed.

Judge Kennelly granted conditional class certification in May, but said the former workers needed to narrow the suit to exclude about 30 individuals whose benefits weren’t calculated based on the 1971 mortality table and 8% interest rate.

The retirees did so, adding a line stating that the class does not include individuals whose benefits were calculated by the “tabular factors” — for example, by assumptions other than the 1971 mortality table and 8% interest rate. The class also does not include individuals who received a subsidized preretirement survivor annuity, the former workers’ class definition said.

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The class is represented by Todd F. Jackson and Nina Wasow of Feinberg Jackson Worthman and Wasow LLP, by John R. Stokes, Peter K. Stris, Rachana A. Pathak and Victor A. O’Connell of Stris & Maher LLP, by Carol V. Gilden, Ryan Wheeler and Michelle C. Yau of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and by Shaun P. Martin of University of San Diego Law School.

Read Citgo Retirees Secure Amended Class Cert. in ERISA Suit.