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Willis Towers Watson settles with Houston over actuarial work for firefighters pension plan

The city of Houston and Willis Towers Watson agreed to a $40 million settlement following a lawsuit the city filed in 2014, subject to Houston City Council approval at its meeting this Tuesday.

The city of Houston filed the lawsuit in August 2014 in connection with predecessor firm Towers Perrin's work for the $4.2 billion Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The city alleged that Towers Perrin, the pension fund's actuary, "negligently" miscalculated the cost of existing benefits for the firefighters' pension fund and "misrepresented" that required contributions to the fund would not increase if benefits were enhanced, according to previous court documents.

Willis Towers Watson agreed to pay $40 million to settle the lawsuit, releasing the claim for the firefighters' pension fund, along with any future claims by the $3.9 billion Houston Police Officers' Pension System and the $2.3 billion Houston Municipal Employees Pension System.

According to the City Council's agenda Tuesday, $29 million will be paid to the city's general fund and $11 million to special counsel.

Further information on the lawsuit was not immediately available. According to a joint news release from the office of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Willis Towers Watson, "WTW has denied any wrongdoing and the parties have agreed that the settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing. The parties have settled the dispute in order to avoid the costs and uncertainty of litigation and to put this dispute behind them."

Officials in Mr. Turner's office, and Josh Wozman, Willis Towers Watson spokesman, could not be immediately reached to provide comment. Alex G. Romain, partner at Hueston Hennigan, Willis Tower Watson's lead counsel, declined comment.