Andersen Retirees Seek Court Guaranteed Pensions

April 2, 2002 ( - Fearing that their employer might seek federal bankruptcy protection, a group of Arthur Andersen retirees has gone to court to force the company to meet the Andersen pension plan's minimum funding requirements.

Filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by 10 retired Andersen partners, the suit asks for a court order forcing Andersen to meet its ERISA pension obligations by not dissipating its remaining assets and by setting aside funds explicitly for pension payments, according to a Bureau of National Affairs report.

The suit claims that the vested benefits in the pension plan covering Andersen partners total more than $400 million.

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The retired partners said in the lawsuit that they fear current employees leaving the beleaguered audit and accounting firm would take their clients with them. Andersen has been hit in recent weeks with defections by a number of large clients.

 “Because the employees comprise the primary assets of Andersen and are the source of Andersen’s current revenue, Andersen’s actual and anticipated actions will effectively liquidate all the assets of the company and will eliminate the company’s current revenue,” the lawsuit alleged, according to the BNA report.

No Assurances

The retired partners also allege that Andersen was obligated by the firm’s partnership agreement to pay out lump sum benefits, which it hasn’t done. The plaintiffs say they’ve asked Andersen officials for assurances the pension obligations will be met, but that the officials have yet to provide such assurances.

Andersen has been hit hard since late 2001 when the Enron scandal broke with questions about Andersen’s performance as the one-time giant Houston energy trader’s auditor.

The case is Buchholz v. Arthur Andersen, N.D. Ill., No. 1:02cv2125.