Court Considers Settlement In NMI Retirement Fund Class Action
By Ferdie de la Torre
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, August 5, 2013) – The lawyers representing Betty Johnson filed Friday in federal court a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement agreement in her class action against the NMI Retirement Fund and the CNMI government.
The parties also submitted in the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Friday a stipulation and agreement of settlement entered by Johnson as representative of the settlement class and her and class lawyers Margery S. Bronster, Robert M. Hatch, Bruce Jorgensen, and Stephen Woodruff, and Gov. Eloy S. Inos.
Also included as signatories in the agreement are Attorney General Joey P. San Nicolas, Fund trustee ad litem representative Joseph C. Razzano, Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson, Commonwealth Health Corp. acting chief operating officer Esther Muña, Northern Marianas College president Dr. Sharon Hart, and Fund trustees.
U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood will hear the motion for preliminary approval tomorrow, Tuesday.
According to Johnson’s counsels, the primary purpose of the agreement is to ensure that retirees who are in the class will receive at least 75 percent of their benefits in the future.
The agreement will allow the CNMI to let Fund members who are not yet receiving benefits to withdraw from the Fund and get their contributions back; and provide a mechanism for the retirees who are class members to enforce their rights under the settlement.
Members of the settlement class are defined as those who on Aug. 6, 2013, are members of the Fund’s defined benefit plan or persons who are entitled to survivor’s benefits of such members; provided the person did not execute and deliver to the Fund a timely election to terminate.
The key provisions of the proposed settlement include the following:
Johnson proposed a hearing for Sept. 30, 2013, on a motion for final approval and motion for attorneys fees, costs, and incentive award.
Johnson filed the lawsuit in June 2009. Last June 26, the parties informed Judge Tydingco-Gatewood that a tentative settlement agreement has been reached.
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