Whipsaw Calculation Case Deemed Class Action

February 17, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge in Wisconsin has declared as a class action a lawsuit by two cash balance participants over the failure to use a whipsaw calculation in determining pre-retirement lump-sum distributions.

U.S. District   Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin turned aside arguments by the Alliant Energy Cash Balance Pension Plan that the claims by the two named plaintiffs were not typical of other workers because they agreed not to sue over their pension benefits as part of their severance agreements.

Crabb also rejected the plan’s contention the two plaintiffs could not represent a class of workers because they did not sufficiently understand the substance of their legal claims. Crabb said their legal counsel was sufficiently versed to represent the class.

Lawyers for the plan also argued the proposed participant class would include participants who received lump-sum payouts more than six years before the date the lawsuit was filed – after the time limit for filing legal claims. Crabb said the fact that some claims might be too late did not change her ruling that the plaintiffs deserved the class certification.

Crabb appointed Lawrence G. Ruppert to represent class members whose lump-sum distributions were calculated on or after February 29, 2002, and Thomas A. Larson to represent class members whose distributions were calculated between January 1, 1998, and February 28, 2002.

Ruppert and Larson filed a motion for class certification to include any plan participant who was paid pension benefits without a whipsaw calculation.

The case is Ruppert v. Alliant Energy Cash Balance Pension Plan,   W.D. Wash., No. 08-cv-127-bbc.