A federal judge in Milwaukee has given preliminary approval to a $900,000 settlement that Rockwell Automation will pay in an ERISA lawsuit that claimed the company's pension plan underpaid certain married participants by using outdated mortality tables and interest rates in the payment formula.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman issued the preliminary approval Nov. 7, setting March 8, 2024 for a hearing on final approval.
The $900,000 payment was disclosed in a document filed by a plaintiff's lawyers, and unopposed by defendants, on Nov. 1 in the district court.
The parties reached an agreement in principle in mid-September, but they didn't describe the terms in the case of Mark Berube vs. Rockwell Automation Inc. et al.
The class-action settlement was based on the argument that Rockwell and its fiduciaries failed to provide an "actuarially equivalent" pension payment for married participants covered by a joint and survivor annuity compared to the standard single life annuity for individual participants.
Preparing an actuarially equivalent payment requires a formula based on mortality tables and interest rates, both of which the plaintiff contended were inadequate and led to participants being shortchanged.
Berube sued in December 2020. Defendants' petition for dismissal was rejected by the court in April 2021 and their petition for summary judgment was rejected in January 2022. A motion for summary judgment is usually filed after the parties have completed discovery, giving a judge the opportunity to review details of a case. A motion to dismiss, usually requested soon after a complaint is filed, argues the plaintiff has failed to state a claim.
After one failed attempt via mediation to settle the case in November 2021, the parties met again and achieved an agreement in principle in September 2023.
The Rockwell Automation Pension Plan, Milwaukee, had $2.14 billion in assets, according to the latest Form 5500 filing.