A proposed settlement to end litigation against Rhode Island's state pension overhaul has been given preliminary approval.
Rhode Island Superior Court Associate Justice Sarah Taft-Carter filed a 21-page decision April 17 granting the plaintiffs' motion for the settlement.
The court says final approval of the settlement would occur after a public fairness hearing May 20.
“On a preliminary basis, the proposed settlement appears to be fair and within the range of settlements that could be worthy of final approval as fair, reasonable and adequate,” Ms. Taft-Carter wrote in her decision.
The decision adds that “reaching a settlement will save both the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) from the risks inherent in litigation … and bring some finality to this long-running dispute over the plaintiffs' retirement benefits.”
Unions representing municipal police, Cranston police and Cranston firefighters, which represent about 800 people, rejected the settlement and aren't included in the motion.
The plaintiffs, which include public employee unions and retiree coalitions, sued to block a 2011 overhaul that created a hybrid plan, raised retirement ages and suspended cost-of-living increases for participants in the $8.3 billion Rhode Island Employees' Retirement System, Providence, as a cost-savings measure.
The lawsuit was the subject of closed-door mediation since 2012. The mediation process ended in April after a proposed settlement was rejected by members of the police union. A trial date had been set for April 20, but was canceled after the proposed settlement agreement was announced.
The full decision is available below and on the state's judiciary website.