A federal District Court judge in Newport News, Va., has ruled against Huntington Ingalls Industries in a claim that a company pension plan's benefit calculations underpaid participants in violation of ERISA.
In a Sept. 29 decision, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Beach Smith rejected the company's request for summary dismissal, thus allowing the case to proceed to trial.
Roger Herndon, a participant in a company defined benefit plan, sued Huntington Ingalls and its fiduciaries in May 2019 alleging that plan executives used out-of-date mortality benefits to calculate benefits for retirees.
The complaint affects some workers in the Newport News Operations Pension Plan that was negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement with United Steelworkers Local 8888. The complaint affects only participants in the legacy plan, which is the pension plan covering employees hired before June 7, 2004.
The plan's use of a 1971 mortality table results in "monthly payments that are materially lower than if defendants used reasonable, current actuarial assumptions," the original lawsuit said.
In March, the case was referred to a U.S. magistrate judge to review the matter and to issue a report. In August, the magistrate judge recommended to Ms. Smith that the request for summary judgment be denied.
Declaring that the magistrate judge's analysis was "thorough and well-reasoned," Ms. Smith ruled against the company.