Press Releases

Federal Lawsuit Filed by Cohen Milstein Alleges Second Largest Utility Company in U.S. Miscalculated Retiree Pensions Resulting in Underpayment

October 25, 2022


Firm still signing up Southern Company Pension Plan participants for class action

Washington, DC – Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, a premier plaintiffs’ class action law firm, represents retirees of the Southern Company Pension Plan (“the Plan”) in a class action lawsuit against Southern Company and its pension plan administrators. Plaintiffs allege that Southern Company, the parent company to Southern Company Gas, Alabama Power Company, Georgia Power Company, AGL Resources, Nicor Gas, and Virginia Natural Gas, among other utility companies, is shortchanging their retirees or their surviving spouse in violation of the actuarial equivalence requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Plaintiffs seek to recover amounts due to married retirees and their surviving spouses and to reform the Southern Company Pension Plan to ensure full compliance with the protections of ERISA.

The lawsuit, Drummond, et al. v. Southern Company, Inc., et al. was filed before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on September 2, 2022.

“This is a really troubling issue for the Southern Company retirees who are being shortchanged and forced to live on less retirement income every month,” said Michelle Yau, chair of Cohen Milstein’s Employee Benefits/ERISA practice.

Under Ms. Yau’s leadership, Cohen Milstein is presently engaged in similar litigation against AT&T, CITGO Petroleum, and Luxottica.  Both AT&T and CITGO have passed the motion to dismiss stage. In June, the firm filed for class certification in AT&T.  To read more about joint and survivor annuities, see “Is Your Retirement Plan Imposing a Marriage Penalty? What You Need to Know.”

Claims in Southern Company: Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that Southern Company and the pension plan administrators used outdated pension plan mortality tables that resulted in the miscalculation of the joint and survivor annuity paid to some Southern Company retirees, and in unreasonable and excessive charges called “QPSA charges” related to pre-retirement death benefits.

Impacted Individuals: Cohen Milstein is actively signing up individuals who retired from Southern Company or one of its subsidiaries on or after November 1, 2016.

Next Steps: If Southern Company Pension Plan participants believe they may have been impacted, they should contact their legal counsel or contact: Michelle C. Yau, Partner (email) or at 202.408.4600.

About Michelle C. Yau

Michelle Yau, chair of the Cohen Milstein’s Employee Benefits/ERISA practice is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Her practice is limited to federal legal matters, such as the federal pension laws that pertain to the Southern Company. Ms. Yau’s experience of protecting retirement assets and insight into complex financial transactions and actuarial issues is informed by her Wall Street and Department of Labor experience. In 2021, she was named Law360’s “Employee Benefits MVP – Benefits.”

About Cohen Milstein’s Employee Benefits/ ERISA Practice

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC is a premier class action law firm, handling high-profile and often precedent-setting cases on behalf of plaintiffs. We have filed numerous ERISA class actions alleging illegal underpayment of pension benefits on behalf of married retirees against large corporations such as AT&T, CITGO Petroleum, and Luxottica.  Cohen Milstein was named Law360’s “Employee Benefits/ERISA Practice Group of the Year” in 2020 and 2021. For additional information, please visit or call (202) 408-4600.


Michelle C. Yau, Partner

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


No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.