October 29, 2018

SSM Health Care Corp. and its former employees have agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing the hospital system of flouting the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by wrongly classifying its pension plans as “church plans” exempt from the law’s requirements, according to filings in Missouri federal court Monday.

SSM Health and the former employees said in their notice that they were in the process of drafting a settlement agreement they intended to finalize within 30 days of Oct. 19, the date they signed a term sheet after reaching an agreement in principle during mediation while the suit is on appeal. The notice didn’t provide any details about the forthcoming settlement.

Lisa Feather, a former employee of SSM Health, brought the suit in April 2016, accusing SSM Health and its pension committee of breaching their fiduciary duties under ERISA by underfunding the hospital system’s pension plans while incorrectly claiming that the plans qualified for a religious exemption under the statute. The case was stayed the following December to await the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case on the scope of church plans under ERISA.

The employees are represented by Mark K. Gyandoh of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP, Lynn Lincoln Sarko, Laura R. Gerber, Havila C. Unrein and Ron Kilgard of Keller Rohrback LLP, Karen L. Handorf, Michelle Yau and Mary Bortscheller of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Matthew H. Armstrong of Armstrong Law Firm LLC, and Robert A. Izard, Mark P. Kindall and Douglas P. Needham of Izard Kindall & Raabe LLP.

The complete article can be accessed here.