The settlement is expected to benefit nearly 2,000 Huntington retirees receiving certain optional pension formats that pay benefits to their spouses after their deaths. The increased payments will cost the company about $2.8 million, which is about 34% of the plaintiffs’ estimated damages, according to settlement papers filed in November.
Judge Roderick C. Young of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted preliminary approval to the deal on Monday. The case was allowed to proceed to trial in 2020 after the company declined to oppose the retirees’ request for class status.
Huntington, a military shipbuilder, is one of more than a dozen large employers that have been sued over the actuarial and interest rate assumptions used by their pension plans. The lawsuits claim the employers violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by calculating certain pensions using decades-old life expectancy tables.
Because those tables don’t take into account recent increases in lifespan, workers who choose certain optional pension formats have their benefits unfairly reduced compared to other workers, the lawsuits claim.
The Huntington retirees are represented by Bailey & Glasser LLP and Izard, Kindall & Raabe LLP, which are authorized under the settlement to seek $700,000 in attorneys’ fees.
Alston & Bird LLP and McGuireWoods LLP represent Huntington.
The case is Herndon v. Huntington Ingalls Indus., Inc., E.D. Va., No. 4:19-cv-00052, 1/31/22.