A U.S. District judge in Milwaukee denied a motion Monday to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against Rockwell Automation Inc., Milwaukee, that alleges the company used out-of-date mortality tables for calculating benefits.
The April 2019 complaint filed by a participant in the Rockwell Automation Pension Plan said the company had violated its fiduciary responsibilities under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 by continuing to use outdated mortality tables from 1971 to calculate annuities for pension plan participants, resulting in underpaid benefits.
In its motion to dismiss, Rockwell Automation said "a plan pays actuarially equivalent benefits so long as it calculates actuarial equivalence using actuarial assumptions that were reasonable at the time they were written into the plan," according to the text of the Monday order.
In denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Lynn Adelman said the lawsuit's allegation that the decades-old 1971 mortality table does not reflect the significant improvements in life expectancy that have occurred since their publication is plausible.
"These allegations, by themselves, give rise to a reasonable inference that the plan's actuarial assumptions are unreasonable and thus do not produce actuarial equivalence," the order said.
As of Dec. 31, 2018, the Rockwell Automation Pension Plan had $2.5 billion in assets, according to the company's most recent Form 5500 filing.
Darice Brown, Rockwell Automation spokeswoman, and Gregory Y. Porter, partner at Bailey Glasser, counsel for the plaintiffs, could not be immediately reached for comment.