DOL Sues Trustees of Rhode Island Fund

The Dep’t of Labor has filed suit in the U.S. Dist. Court in Rhode Island to recover nearly $30,000 in improper benefit payments from the trustees of the Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers Local Union 99 Health & Welfare Fund. The suit, filed May 31, charges Board of Trustees members Ernest W. Audet, Jr., G. Thomas Chabot, Raymond J. Lambert, James W. Crandall, Normand L. Jodoin, Thomas J. Lynch, and John I. McGee with violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. DOL alleges that, between Jan. 1994 and Dec. 1995, the named individuals failed to adequately review, monitor, and ensure the accuracy of employee eligibility information which they provided to Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co., the plan administrator.

Specifically, DOL alleges that the plan paid approximately $29,424.60 in medical benefits on behalf of seven employees who were ineligible to participate in the plan, and that the trustees, aware that benefits were paid to ineligible participants, failed to take appropriate action to recover the monies. ERISA requires that such plan assets be used and administered solely for the benefit of the plan’s participants.

DOL’s suit requests a court order requiring the trustees to pay the plan for losses incurred from their actions or inactions. It also requests that the court order the trustees from violating ERISA in the future. The suit follows an probe by the Boston Reg’l Office of the Pension & Welfare Benefits Admin., a subagency of DOL. [PWBA Media Release 6/5/01]