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Rhode Island Supreme Court upholds pension reform settlement

The Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld a 2015 settlement to end litigation against Rhode Island's state pension overhaul, according to court documents.

After two groups appealed the approved settlement, state Supreme Court Justice Gilbert V. Indeglia said May 25 in his opinion that he found the original "trial justice's initial determination that the settlement was procedurally fair."

Mr. Indeglia added that "the trial justice required the parties to notify class members by mail, newspaper publication, and through the (Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island) website. The trial justice also held five days of testimony at a fairness hearing, wherein the parties and objectors could be heard on the fairness of the settlement terms."

In 2011 when she was state treasurer, Gina M. Raimondo, who is now the state's governor, proposed a massive pension 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.

In response, several state and municipal unions sued on behalf of their members to block the 2011 overhaul. After years of closed-door deliberations, Rhode Island Superior Court Associate Justice Sarah Taft-Carter approved a proposed settlement in June 2015.

The settlement included two one-time stipends payable to all current retirees; an increased cost-of-living adjustment cap for current retirees; and lowering the retirement age, which varies among participants depending on years of service.

While union plaintiffs approved the settlement, two groups of plaintiffs appealed Ms. Taft-Carter's approval of the settlement.