Significant victory for the protection of pension plan participants
Bradley Schram, shareholder and president of Hertz Schram PC, a Bloomfield Hills-based law firm, announced the firm obtained a landmark settlement of more than $39 million on behalf of disabled retirees of the Carpenters Pension Trust Fund – Detroit and Vicinity Pension Plan (Plan). The settlement recovers more than $15 million in back benefits and more than $24 million (in today’s dollars) in future benefits.
“We are pleased to have represented participants of the Plan who suffered financial hardship due to the cut in their benefits,” said Schram. “Our pension lawyers are vigilant in their efforts to secure better remedies for pension plan participants who have suffered a monetary loss because of a violation of the pension laws.”
The Plan, a multiemployer pension plan subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), dramatically reduced the class members’ Disability Retirement Benefits (DRB) by an average of more than 61 percent and threatened total elimination of their DRB.
The 324 plaintiffs, most of whom reside in the Detroit area, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, averring that an August 2013 plan amendment that reduced their DRB was unlawful under both the Plan’s terms and the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
“This was an egregious breach of stewardship by the trustees of the Plan,” said Eva Cantarella, the lead plaintiffs’ attorney from Hertz Schram. “This ruling is significant not only because it restores benefits to these disabled retirees, but also in its potential impact to protect the benefits of disabled retirees nationwide.”
After a Fairness Hearing in which Class members and Hertz Schram attorneys Cantarella and Robert Geller testified, Honorable Judge Laurie Michelson granted approval of the settlement. Distributions to Class members commenced March 23.
Located in Bloomfield Hills and Detroit, Michigan, Hertz Schram PC has represented pension plan participants in 14 class actions nationwide, establishing itself as one of the leading pension law firms in the United States. In the past 15 years, Hertz Schram’s pension lawyers — Cantarella, Geller and Schram — have recovered more than $120 million in pension benefits for more than 20,000 pension plan participants and their beneficiaries. Lead pension lawyer, Cantarella, has testified before the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Department of Treasury on proposed regulations governing tax-qualified pension plans with the goal of ensuring that, once finalized, the regulations will not undercut, but rather will improve upon, protections for pension plan participants and their beneficiaries.
For more information visit http://www.hertzschram.com. To contact Cantarella about a pension issue, call 248-335-5000.