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Nicholson v. Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System., No. 1:160cv-00258 (MD La.)

Plaintiff brought this suit on behalf of all participants of the Retirement Plan of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and Affiliated Organizations; Pension Plan for Employees of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, Inc.; and the Retirement Plan for Employees of St. Francis Medical Center, Inc.  Plaintiff alleges that the Plans were underfunded by over $260 million as of June of 2013 based on standards applicable to retirement plans covered by the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants are not entitled to rely on the ERISA exemption for “church plans” because the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System and/or its subsidiaries, which established the Plans and maintains them, is neither a church nor a convocation of churches.  The Complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana in April of 2016

On May 5, 2017, the parties entered into a proposed settlement agreement, which was submitted to the Court for preliminary approval on May 15, 2017. The Settlement Agreement requires Defendants to make payments of $125 million over a period of 5 years to the trust fund for the Plans and pay an additional $450 each to the participants in the Plans who took a lump sum distribution under the Lump Sum Window Benefit Program.

On October 24, 2017, the Court preliminarily approved the Settlement, authorized notice to the Class and scheduled a hearing on the fairness of the Settlement for 9:30 a.m on February 6, 2018.  Class Counsel will file a Motion for Final Approval and a Motion for Award of Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses by no later than January 6, 2018.  The deadline for filing objections to the Settlement is January 23, 2018.

In addition, the Settlement Agreement includes a 15-year commitment to pay benefits by the Operating Entities in the Plans. Additional information concerning the case and the proposed settlement can be found in the attached documents.

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