OPINION: Settlement Marks Victory for SRHS

The settlement agreement filed in federal court marks a solid victory for Singing River.  The hospital is setting forth a payment plan to return $149 million to the pension plan over the next 35 years and wants something sinister in exchange.

We find that this is a bum deal.

Judge Hilburn, who is presiding over concurrent cases in Jackson County Chancery Court, has already ruled that Singing River owes the pension trust for the money it failed to contribute from 2009 – 2014.  It is now a matter of law that Singing River owes the money.  It is estimated that this amount is $55 million.

It is apparent that Singing River doesn’t have $55 million to return to the pension plan.  Instead, Singing River is asking the court to grant it a 35 year payment plan.  They are also asking for something very big in return: the release of any and all claims against any trustee or employee of SRHS.  This includes Chris Anderson, who is being sued individually in the case.

Rather than wringing our hands and saying “aww shucks, they got away” as is the Sun Herald editorial board.  We suggest  that employees of Singing River not be released from liability until it is learned the role they played in the demise of the plan.

Remember folks, Chris Anderson took every penny of his pension with him as a lump sum when he ran for the hills. If he he played a role in the demise of the pension, he should sacrifice along with retirees and employees.

 

9 thoughts on “OPINION: Settlement Marks Victory for SRHS

  1. My speculation is Simpson believes a settlement puts the trust in no worse position than it was before, i.e. SRHS could stop its payments to the trust at any time. However, if those payments stop for any reason, then the trust will have released any claims it may have against the individual defendants.

    Under normal circumstances with a financially stressed defendant, a plaintiff accepts settlement worth less than his/her actual damages because the risk of getting nothing exceeds the potential reward/big pay-day. Here under the proposed settlement, the defendants are getting rid of all liability but the plaintiffs are only receiving in return nothing more than the original promise made years ago to adequately fund the pension plan. If the settlement goes through, SRHS will have gotten a HUGE something in exchange for NOTHING more a renewed promise to pay. That would be a big win for the defendants.

  2. I do not feel comfortable with the proposed settlement on the mere fact that we will never know how all this happened and who was responsible.

    The attorneys who came up with this plan make me feel like the deal is highly questionable.

    As a taxpayer of Jackson County and a former employee of SRHS I want to know what happened and who were responsible. We have our suspicions and theories but don’t we at least deserve to know the truth ?

    I put in money every payday. I was under the impression that my employer at the time was putting money into my account as well. I also thought it was earning interest and was being wisely invested.

    Surely, I am not alone? Are there actually retirees and current employees who honestly think this is the best settlement and who will have no problem sleeping at night knowing they were quiet and allowed those who did this to all of us simply just walk away without any type of repercussion? No standing up in court and admitting anything ? Just going on like nothing ever happened?

    Really?

    • Windy I have attended most of the mediation sessions with my attorneys who are not from the coast.
      I am comfortable with the settlement with SRHS. I have spoken many times with the special fiduciary. I like him and believe he will do a good job.
      The chancery court in Jackson county will be receiving reports every 3 months from the special fiduciary.
      Nothing in the plan has changed and any changes that must be made in the future must be approved by the chancery court.
      The truth is that SRHS always had a right to terminate the plan. We are all fortunate that someone got the word out and Denham and Barton brought it before the court. If SRHS had terminated the plan in the correct manner, the current employees and vested former employees would have lost their retirement.

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  3. What about the term “made whole”? Does that apply here?
    How can no one be held accountable? How can the current admin be allowed to stay? Rumor is that some have received pay increases. Is this true? How much are they making? Get rid of them!!!

    • Being made whole is actually the topic of an upcoming post. Part of the process of being made whole is answers, accountability, closure – none of which will happen under the current arrangement.

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