Delta Pilots ERISA

Thousands of active and retired Delta Air Lines pilots sued the airline in a class action lawsuit for actions that the company had taken which caused employees to lose pension benefits.

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Seeger Weiss served as Lead Counsel in nationwide ERISA litigation consolidated in U.S. Federal court in Atlanta, Georgia, representing thousands of active and retired Delta Air Lines pilots in a class action suit. The lawsuits claimed that various company pension plan amendments and practices had caused employee pilots to forfeit accrued and vested pension benefits.

The Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a 1974 law that requires companies to appropriately manage retirement plans of their employees when provided. ERISA requires that a company has a “fiduciary” responsibility toward its employees, and ERISA sets the requirements and standards for that responsibility.

Inevitably, in some cases companies mismanage their employee retirement plans. When ERISA requirements have not been met, companies may be liable for:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Mismanagement of funds
  • Excessive fees
  • Failure to adequately fund plans

Failure to effectively or responsibly manage retirement plans like the Delta Airlines pilot pension plans may leave the employee without complete benefit of retirement funds that should have been expected and may have a negative impact on financial status in the future.

Delta Airlines Pilot Pension ERISA Lawsuit and Settlement Agreement

In the early 2000’s the class action lawsuit against Delta Airlines was filed by past and present pilot employees.

The lawsuit plaintiffs challenged:

  • methodology used to calculate and pay lump sums of pension benefits to pilots
  • retroactive freeze of a benefit formula that had previously allowed for increases in investment performance
  • automatic reductions of pension benefits of married retirees hired before 1972.

In September 2005 the Federal court in Atlanta granted final approval to a class action settlement providing for payment of $16 million in cash to certain retired Delta pilots hired before 1972 or their spouses or beneficiaries and 1 million stock purchase warrants to lump sum pension benefits recipients.

Delta Airlines Files Bankruptcy

The settlements for the ERISA lawsuit represented a significant recovery, with the court’s final approval coming only days before Delta Air Lines filed for bankruptcy protection. Once in bankruptcy protection, the Delta Air Lines Pilots Retirement Plan was terminated and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) became the trustee of the retirement plan.

Seeger Weiss continued to represent Plaintiffs and class members through a number of twists and turns in the bankruptcy proceedings and beyond, and vigorously fought for and secured the complete and final distribution of all settlement provisions.

Seeger Weiss, LLP has represented hundreds of clients in Consumer Protection and Securities litigation. If you would like to know more or you have questions about ERISA or consumer protection lawsuits, contact us at (888) 609-0805 to schedule a consultation.

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