Welcome to the Smith v. OSF HealthCare System settlement website. This website is intended to keep Settlement Class Members informed regarding the Settlement. The content of this website is the responsibility of Class Counsel and has not been approved by the Court. On October 7, 2020, the Honorable Staci M. Yandle granted preliminary approval of the Settlement.
On April 27, 2016, Plaintiff Sheilar Smith filed a class action Complaint in this Court against OSF HealthCare System and various other defendants (collectively, the “Defendants”) alleging violations of ERISA and improper treatment of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis Employees Pension Plan and the Retirement Plan for Employees of Saint Anthony’s Health Center (collectively, the “OSF Plans”) as “church plans” resulting in, among other things, placing the pensions of participants and beneficiaries at risk by underfunding the OSF Plans. On May 6, 2016, an Amended Complaint was filed adding Plaintiff Kasandra Anton as a named plaintiff. Separately, on May 3, 3016, Bailey, et al. v. OSF HealthCare System, et al., No. 1:16-cv-01137 (C.D. Ill.), a class action with similar claims was filed in the Central District of Illinois. The Plaintiffs in the Bailey action were Bonnie Bailey, Peggy Wise, and June Schwierjohn. The claims from the Bailey action were included in the Fourth Amended Class Action Complaint by stipulation of the Parties following voluntary dismissal of that action on September 28, 2017. Bailey v. OSF Healthcare Sys., No. 1:16-cv-013337-SLD-TSH, 2017 WL 4319113 (C.D. Ill. Sept. 28, 2017).
The Bailey Plaintiffs were represented by the law firms of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP, and Izard Kindall & Raabe LLP. The operative Complaint is the Fourth Amended Class Action Complaint and it alleges that the Defendants denied ERISA protections to the participants and beneficiaries of the OSF Plans by incorrectly claiming that the OSF Plans qualify as ERISA-exempt “church plans.” In short, Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants failed to operate the OSF Plans in accordance with ERISA and breached their fiduciary duties to the Plaintiffs by, among other things, failing to send participants proper notices and failing to make payment of required contributions to the Master Trust, leaving the OSF Plans severely underfunded and creating a substantial risk that the OSF Plans will be unable to pay the accrued pension benefits to which Plaintiffs and the other Class members are entitled. A similar case concerning the church plan exemption was heard by the Supreme Court in 2017, Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, 137 S. Ct. 1652 (2017). The Supreme Court ruled against the plan participants, holding that a church plan did not need to be established by a church. This ruling was released while this case was pending and eliminated one of Plaintiffs’ arguments that the Plan was not a church plan. Following that ruling, Plaintiffs refined their arguments and filed their Fourth Amended Class Action Complaint, which is the operative Complaint, on October 12, 2017.
The Parties negotiated a settlement of this case between October of 2019 and July of 2020. During that time the Parties met with Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly in person to attempt to resolve the Action. While the in-person mediation was unsuccessful, the parties continued discussions with the mediator after the meeting. Settlement discussions were later facilitated by nationally known mediator Robert A. Meyer, Esq., of JAMS via teleconference starting on March 4, 2020. On July 30, 2020, the Parties filed a notice of Settlement to inform the Court that they had reached agreement. This Settlement is the product of those arm’s-length negotiations between Class Counsel and Defendants’ counsel, which occurred over many months and were overseen and assisted by two experienced third-party mediators.
The Settlement Class
On October 7, 2020, the preliminary approval of the Settlement was granted on behalf of the following Settlement Class:
All vested or non-vested participants of the OSF Plans (and their beneficiaries) as of the date of the filing of the Complaint (April 27, 2016).
Q: What does the Settlement provide?
The Settlement calls for a $25 million cash contribution from the Defendants, and other non-monetary equitable relief. The first $5 million installment of the Settlement Payment will be put into the Master Trust in fiscal year 2021; the cash payments for each year can be made in installments or in a lump sum. Defendants will continue to make cash contributions of $5 million per year through fiscal year 2025. Defendants’ cash contribution requirement ends once the amounts deposited into the Master Trust pursuant to this Settlement reach $25 million. The cash amount will be contributed to the Master Trust, not to individual participants and beneficiaries. Your pension benefit will not increase or be recalculated as a result of the Settlement. You will not receive any individual cash benefit recovery. The above description of the operation of the Settlement is only a summary. The governing provisions are set forth in the Settlement Agreement.
Q: What rights am I giving up in the Settlement?
If the Settlement is approved, the Court will enter a judgment. This judgment will fully, finally, and forever release, relinquish, and discharge any and all actual or potential claims, actions, causes of action, demands, obligations, liabilities, attorneys’ fees, expenses and costs arising out of the allegations of the Complaint, or otherwise, in connection with the sponsorship, funding, maintenance, operation or termination of, or distributions from, the OSF Plans, including any claims that were brought or could have been brought under federal law or state law as of the date of the Settlement Agreement by any member of the Settlement Class, including any challenge to the “church plan” status of the OSF Plans. Released Claims do not include any claims which may arise out of this Settlement Agreement itself.
If the Court certifies the Action as a class action, you will be part of the Settlement Class. You are a member of the Settlement Class if you are a vested or non-vested participant or beneficiary of the OSF Plans as of April 27, 2016.
You do not have the right to exclude yourself from the Settlement. For settlement purposes, the Action was certified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(1) and 23(b)(2) (non-opt-out class) because the Court determined the requirements of those Rules were satisfied. Thus, it is not possible for any of the members of the Settlement Class to exclude themselves from the Settlement. Members of the Settlement Class will be bound by any judgment or orders that are entered in the Action for all claims that were or could have been asserted in the Action against Defendants or are otherwise included in the Released Claims under the Settlement. Although members of the Settlement Class cannot opt-out of the Settlement, they can object to the Settlement and ask the Court not to approve the Settlement.
The law firms of Keller Rohrback L.L.P. and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC (“Class Counsel”) represent Named Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class. The Named Plaintiffs and Settlement Class are also represented by the law firms of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP, and Izard Kindall & Raabe LLP, and Local Counsel Matthew H. Armstrong. You will not be charged directly by these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
Prior to the Fairness Hearing, Class Counsel will apply for an award of attorneys’ fees and for expense reimbursement, and incentive awards of $5,000 for each Named Plaintiff. The application for attorneys’ fees, expenses, and incentive awards will not exceed one million seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($1,750,000). To date, Class Counsel have not received any payment for their services in prosecuting this Action on behalf of the Settlement Class, nor have Class Counsel been reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses. The fee requested by Class Counsel would compensate all Plaintiffs’ counsel (in both the Smith and Bailey matters) for their efforts in achieving the Settlement for the benefit of the Settlement Class and for their risk in undertaking this representation on a contingency basis. The Court will determine the actual amount of the Fee Award.
Q: How do I tell the Court if I don’t like the Settlement?
Any member of the Settlement Class who wishes to object to the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the Settlement, to any term of the Settlement Agreement, to the application for payment of attorneys’ fees and expenses, or to the application for incentive awards for Named Plaintiffs, may file an Objection in writing. All written objections and supporting papers must be signed and must: (1) clearly identify the case name and number “Smith et al. v. OSF Healthcare System, et al., Case No. 3:16-cv-00467-SMY-RJD;” (2) be filed with the Court and postmarked and mailed or faxed to Class Counsel and Defendants’ Counsel at the addresses below on or before twenty-eight (28) days before the Fairness Hearing; (3) set forth the objector’s full name, current address, and telephone number; and (4) set forth a statement of the position the objector wishes to assert, including any factual and legal grounds for the position that the class member would like the Court to consider. The objection must also provide the following additional information if applicable: (a) The names and a summary of testimony of any witnesses that the objector might want to call in connection with the Objection; (b) copies of all documents that the objector wishes to submit in support of his/her position; and (c) the name(s), address(es) and phone number(s) of any attorney(s) representing the objector. The addresses for filing objections with the Court and service on counsel are listed below. Your written objection must be filed with the Court, and mailed or faxed to the counsel listed below by no later than Friday, December 18, 2020: File with the Clerk of the Court:
Clerk of the Court United States Courthouse 301 West Main Street Benton, IL 62812
And, by the same date, serve copies of all such papers by mail or fax to each of the following:
To Class Counsel:
|Lynn Lincoln Sarko
Laura R. Gerber
KELLER ROHRBACK L.L.P.
1201 Third Avenue, Suite 3200
Seattle, WA 98101-3052
Fax: (206) 623-3384
KELLER ROHRBACK L.L.P.
3101 North Central Avenue, Suite 1400
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Fax: (602) 248-2822
|Karen L. Handorf
Michelle C. Yau
Julie S. Selesnick
COHEN MILSTEIN SELLERS & TOLL, PLLC
1100 New York Ave., NW, Suite 500 West
Washington, DC 20005
Fax: (202) 408-4699
To Defendants’ Counsel:
|Brian T. Ortelere
Jeremy P. Blumenfeld
MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP 1701 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2921
Fax: (215) 963-5001
|Abbey M. Glenn
MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20004-2541
Fax: (202) 739-3001
UNLESS OTHERWISE ORDERED BY THE COURT, ANY MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS WHO DOES NOT OBJECT IN THE MANNER DESCRIBED HEREIN WILL BE DEEMED TO HAVE WAIVED ANY OBJECTION AND SHALL BE FOREVER FORECLOSED FROM MAKING ANY OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT AND THE APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND EXPENSES AND INCENTIVE AWARDS TO THE NAMED PLAINTIFFS.
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 1:30 p.m. on January 15, 2021, at the United States District Court for the United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois, 301 West Main Street, Benton, IL 62812. Pursuant to Fourth Amended Administrative Order issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on October 1, 2020, and in light of the exigent circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, access to federal courthouses is limited and the operations of the District Court for in-person settings are restricted and teleconferencing and videoconferencing is being utilized and will be made available to the public to the extent practicable. Information detailing how to access the audio and/or video feed of court proceedings for the Fairness Hearing will be posted in the notice of setting, and general information will be published on the district court’s public web page, www.ilsd.uscourts.gov. You may contact Class Counsel with questions regarding attendance at the Fairness Hearing.
IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO OBJECT TO THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT OR THE APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND EXPENSES AND INCENTIVE AWARDS TO THE NAMED PLAINTIFFS, YOU NEED NOT ATTEND THE FAIRNESS HEARING.
At the hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. After the Fairness Hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement. The Court will also rule on the motions for attorneys’ fees and expenses and incentive awards to the Named Plaintiffs. We do not know how long these decisions will take.
Q: Do I have to come to the hearing?
Class Counsel will answer questions Judge Yandle may have. You are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, it will be before the Court when the Court considers whether to approve the Settlement as fair, reasonable and adequate. You may also have your own lawyer attend the Fairness Hearing at your expense, but such attendance is not necessary.
Q: May I speak at the hearing?
If you are a member of the Settlement Class and you have filed a timely objection, you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must send a letter or other paper called a “Notice of Intention to Appear at Fairness Hearing in Smith, et al. v. OSF HealthCare System, et al., Case 3:16-cv-00467-SMY-RJD”. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature. Your Notice of Intention to Appear must be served on the attorneys listed above, postmarked and mailed or sent via facsimile no later than December 31, 2020, fourteen (14) days before the Fairness Hearing, and must be filed with the Clerk of the Court, also postmarked no later than December 31, 2020. The Fairness Hearing may be delayed by the Court without further notice to the Settlement Class. If you wish to attend the Fairness Hearing, you should confirm the date and time with Class Counsel.
If you do nothing and you are a member of the Settlement Class, you will participate in the Settlement as described in this Class Notice if the Settlement is approved.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and you have questions regarding the Settlement, please contact Class Counsel at (888) 710-4537 or via . Please do not contact the Court with questions regarding the Settlement. The Court personnel will not be able to answer your questions.
Fourth Amended Class Action Complaint – 10/12/2017
Settlement Agreement – 09/17/2020
Order Preliminarily Approving Settlement – 10/07/2020
Sixth Amended Administrative Order – 11/20/2020