by Kevin McKenzie, The Commercial Appeal,
July 13, 2016
Mary L. Brace has had no problem collecting her monthly $670 pension checks from Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare since she retired as a registered nurse in 2009.
Still, a newspaper advertisement and an attorney from a Pennsylvania law firm have led Brace to be the lead name on a federal lawsuit claiming the Memphis health care system’s pension fund has been chronically underfunded.
Methodist officials disagree.
“The Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare pension plan is in good health,” Dawn Ray, director of strategic communications, said by e-mail.
The Pennsylvania law firm of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP in May ran a local ad seeking participants in Methodist’s “defined benefit” pension plan, which in 2009 was closed to newcomers.
When Brace answered the ad, a lawyer arrived at her Shelby Forest home and convinced here that the pension plan was underfunded by $118.5 million in 2014, as the lawsuit contends.
That was a jump from a year earlier, when the plan had been underfunded by about $49 million, claims the suit, filed in federal district court in Memphis on June 11.