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Senate Passes Bill Encouraging Settlements in St. Joseph Pension Fund Collapse

Thursday, May 10, 2018

 

Dominick Ruggerio

The Rhode Island Senate unanimously approved legislation to encourage court settlements in the event claims are made as part of the St. Joseph Health Services pension fund collapse. The legislation was recommended by special investigator Max Wistow.

The legislation, sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, encourages parties to enter into a settlement and provides that defendants entering in good faith,  judicially-approved settlements would not be liable for claims from co-defendants for contribution or equitable indemnity regarding matters addressed in the settlements. 

“Last fall, I asked my staff to review any and all potential remedies to assist beneficiaries of the St. Joseph Health Services pension fund. Should the bankruptcy case evolve to a point where claims may be made, this legislation could provide a proven legal strategy that has been used successfully to encourage settlements in other high profile cases in Rhode Island,” said Ruggerio.

The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives.

Subpoenas Issued

As GoLocalProv reported in April, federal officials issued subpoenas on the St. Joseph Pension Fund, with the Diocese of Providence being one of the entities.

The subpoenas were issued by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

The PBGC's role is to “protect the retirement incomes of nearly 40 million American workers in nearly 24,000 private-sector defined benefit pension plans.”

Similar Legislation

Similar legislation was enacted in 2014 to induce settlements in the 38 Studios litigation, in 2006 to address the Station Fire litigation, and in 1993 to address the DEPCO litigation.

In those three instances, it was found that many of the defendants had insurance policies that included what is known as a “wasting policy,” meaning that liability coverage is reduced as defense costs are incurred. In such cases, it is most beneficial to the aggrieved party that settlements be reached quickly, when more liability coverage is available.

 

St. Joseph Pension Fund Documents, August 18, 2017

 

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