This website, created by Class counsel, is designed to help Class members understand the proposed settlement, review copies of the relevant documents, and decide whether they believe the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate under the circumstances and should be approved.
Under the agreement, Defendants will pay a total of $267 million, to be distributed to Class members in proportion to their alleged damages, net of litigation and settlement administration expenses, attorneys’ fees and service awards for the named Plaintiffs (Timothy Laurent and Smeeta Sharon).
Plaintiffs and Class counsel believe that that the settlement represents an outstanding recovery for Class members in light of the risks of non-recovery or lesser recovery they faced. The Agreement provides very substantial benefits to Class members while at the same time eliminating the risk that they would end up with no recovery whatsoever or a recovery smaller than the settlement amount. Indeed, if the proposed settlement is approved, the $267 million Total Settlement Amount would represent the largest recovery ever achieved in an ERISA pension case of this kind. Moreover, the $267 million settlement amount represents a recovery of virtually 100% of the unpaid so-called “whipsaw” benefits (inclusive of interest from the date of the original alleged underpayments until today) that both Plaintiffs’ enrolled ERISA actuary and the Plan have independently estimated would be owed by the Plan were Plaintiffs to prevail on their claims through final judgment and appeal.
But the settlement itself will only become effective if finally approved by the Court (the Honorable J. Paul Oetken of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York).
Court approval of a class action is a two-step process. First, there is “preliminary approval” by the Court which depends on a showing that the settlement is within the range of reasonableness, sufficient to send notice to the Class. In his Order of October 31, 2022, Judge Oetken granted preliminary approval of the proposed settlement and authorized Mailed Notice to be sent to members of the Class and Publication Notice to be published in USA Today.
The second step of the settlement process is the “final approval” stage. In the final approval phase of a proposed class action settlement, the Court takes a much closer look and issues a definitive decision as to whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate. At the same time, the Court will rule on the Class Counsel request for litigation and settlement administration expenses, attorneys’ fees and service awards for the two named Plaintiffs.
On December 13, 2022, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Final Approval of the proposed settlement and for approval of Class Counsel’s motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses, settlement administration costs, and named Plaintiff service awards. On January 20, 2023, Plaintiffs filed a Supplement in further support of the motion for final approval and approval of Class Counsel’s motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses, settlement administration costs, and named Plaintiff service awards.
Judge Oetken set the final approval hearing for January 27, 2023 at 12:30 p.m.
At the hearing, after hearing from the parties, Judge Oetken approved the settlement and the requested attorneys' fees and expenses and named plaintiff service awards and entered the attached Final Order and Judgment. After 30 days, assuming no appeals are filed, the Court's order will become final and the Plan will start the process of distributing settlement benefits to members of Class.
We will update this site as soon as we have further information from the Court or other information to convey to members of the Class.