BENTON – A former employee of St.
Anthony's Health Center is suing over the alleged mishandling of
employee pension plans.
Sheilar Smith filed the suit April 27
in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against
OSF Healthcare System, John and Jane Does 1-20, John and Jane Does
21-40, and members of the OSF Human Resources Committee.
The plaintiff seeks class-action status
for this claim, alleging nearly 16,000 employees are affected.
According to the complaint, Smith claims OSF is in violation of numerous provisions of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, including underfunding the
OSF pension plans and claiming that the plans are exempt from federal
protection because they are “church plans.”
Smith worked at St. Anthony's
Health Center from 1986 to 2015 and is a vested participant in a pension plan maintained by OSF. OSF acquired St. Anthony's in 2014.
The suit alleges that the defendants
defined the pension plans incorrectly and therefore have underfunded
She seeks, on her behalf and the other
members of the class, a declaration that the OSF plans are employee
pension benefit plans within the meaning of ERISA; an order that OSF
reform its plans to bring them into compliance with ERISA, including
funding them correctly; requiring the defendants to make the OSF
plans whole; and appointment of an independent fiduciary to oversee
the plans' assets, among several other demands.
She is represented by Laura R. Gerber
of Keller Rohrback LLP in Seattle, Ron Kilgard of Keller Rohrback LLP
in Phoenix, Karen L. Handorf of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll
PLLC in Washington, D.C., and Matthew H. Armstrong of Armstrong Law
Firm LLC in St. Louis.
U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois Case number 16-cv-467