Mercy Health (fka Catholic Health Partners)
In re Mercy Health ERISA Litigation
United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
Case No. 16-441 (fka Case No. 16-518)
Plaintiffs allege that Mercy Health, a non-profit hospital conglomerate based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and operating healthcare facilities in Ohio and Kentucky (and formerly in Pennsylvania and Tennessee), improperly claims that its defined benefit pension plans, including, but not limited to: the Mercy Health Partners – Northern Region Retirement Plan; the Mercy Health Partners Wilkes-Barre Employees Pension Plan; the Mercy Health Partners Pension Plan; the Community Health Partners Regional Medical Center Employees’ Defined Benefit Pension Plan; and the Mercy Health Partners of Greater Cincinnati Retirement Plan (collectively the “Mercy Health Pension Plans” or the “Plans”), are exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), a federal law regulating pension plans. Mercy Health claims that it need not comply with ERISA because of a statutory exemption for “church plans.”
Plaintiffs allege that the Plans do not meet the various statutory requirements for church plans. Further, Plaintiffs allege that if the statute exempting church plans did apply to the Mercy Health Plans, the statute would, to that extent, be unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are violating ERISA by, among other things
- failing to furnish Plaintiffs or any member of the proposed Class with Summary Plan Descriptions, Summary Annual Reports, Notifications of Failure to Meet Minimum Funding, or Funding Notices;
- under-funding the Plans; and
- failing to file annual reports with respect to the Plans with the Secretary of Labor.
Plaintiffs also allege, in the alternative, that if the Mercy Plans are church plans, then Defendants have violated state law in the operation of the Plans.
On July 21, 2016 the case was consolidated with the Lupp v. Mercy Health action. The Master Consolidated Complaint was filed in the In re Mercy Health ERISA Litigation on September 14, 2017. Magistrate Judge Bowman preliminarily approved a proposed settlement on August 8, 2018 and a fairness hearing is scheduled for November 28, 2018.