Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed legislation aimed at helping members of the St. Joseph’s Health Services pension plan reach settlements in their multiple class-action lawsuits.
The legislation helps protect defendants who settle lawsuits from claims from co-defendants.
A newly filed challenge to the health care system’s retirement plan claims the plan at some point failed to be a church plan, and entities administering or associated with the plan hid this to keep from adhering to funding rules as defined by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
According to a Rhode Island General Assembly press release, the $85 million St. Joseph pension plan covers about 2,700 current and former employees of Our Lady of Fatima and Roger Williams hospitals, but was left insolvent when contributions to it ceased following the sale of Fatima and Roger Williams to Prospect Medical Holdings in 2014.
“Members of the St. Joseph’s pension plan dedicated their careers to working at St. Joseph’s, only to have the rug pulled out from under them through no fault of their own,” says Raimondo. “I know many of those affected rely on their pensions for their livelihood, and I hope this legislation expedites an agreeable settlement.”“The beneficiaries of this pension plan, many of whom are my constituents, worked hard taking care of other Rhode Islanders throughout their careers,” says Rhode Island Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio. “They did everything they were supposed to do, and were promised a secure retirement in return. This legislation affords them a proven legal strategy that has been used successfully to encourage settlements in other high profile cases in Rhode Island. Our intent is that it will result in a swift settlement that will make the pensioners whole or as close to whole as possible.”