Posted: Wed., Apr. 25, 2012, 4:32pm PT
SAG pension chief will ankle next week
Bruce Dow announcement comes after ‘chronic healthcare problem’
By Dave McNary
Bruce Dow, longtime chief executive of the Screen Actors Guild Producers Pension and Health Plans, has announced that he will leave the post next week.
Dow, who’s been at the center of allegations made by a dismissed executive, made the announcement Wednesday. He had returned to work recently following a 60-day medical leave of absence to deal with what he termed a “chronic healthcare problem.”
The top slot will be filled by the plans’ chief operating officer Christopher Dowdell on an interim basis. The trustees of the plan issued a statement that they had accepted “with regret” Dow’s decision to resign.
“For the last 28 years, Bruce has been instrumental in assisting the Trustees in designing and managing many of the benefit programs actors enjoy today,” the trustees said. “His ideas and innovation over the years have produced substantial savings for the plans and excellent benefits for plan participants. We greatly appreciate the work that Bruce has done for the Plans and are pleased to announce that Bruce will serve as a consultant to the plans.”
The pension and health plans were sued last month by Craig E Simmons for alleged wrongful termination. Simmons had filed a complaint with the federal government last year, asserting he was terminated for acting as a whistleblower about alleged embezzlement at the fund.
The board of trustees of the plans, operated separately from SAG, denied the allegations in September, retained outside counsel to review the matter and announced in December that the allegations were baseless.
Simmons alleged in the suit — and in the complaint filed with the U.S. Labor Dept. that he was fired in March 2011 by Dow due to Simmons’ refusal to mislead board trustees and government investigators about embezzlement by the plans’ former chief information officer, Nader Karimi. Simmons also alleged that Dow and other execs had misused funds for personal benefit.
In a letter to plan participants dated Dec. 22, the plan trustees — SAG and industry reps — said that “an extensive and independent investigation” found no validity to the allegations by Simmons. The trustees also addressed embezzlement of $2 million that was discovered three years ago and said they were evaluating whether remedial actions are required.
The SAG health plan covers about 40,000 participants and has assets of more than $2 billion, while the retirement plan pays pensions to an estimated 9,000 beneficiaries. The SAG-AFTRA merger, completed March 30, has been touted by merger backers as a first step toward merging the SAG and AFTRA health and pension plans.
Contact Dave McNary at firstname.lastname@example.org
*This from Nikki Finke:
2ND UPDATE: The SAG-PPHP Board of Trustees issued this statement following my scoop. Talk about a soft landing. Dow will remain on the payroll as a consultant for what I hear will be 18 months:
Anti-Merger Lawsuit Lives on Even Though SAG Doesn’t
A month after merger, a dissolved defendant – SAG – files an answer in a suit that it argues is both stale and premature.
4:35 PM PDT 4/25/2012 by Jonathan Hande
SAG filed its answer today in the federal lawsuit brought in February by opponents of SAG/AFTRA merger who sought to enjoin the merger referendum ballot count.
Yes, the lawsuit lives on, even though the judge denied the injunction four weeks ago and merger passed overwhelmingly, with an 82 percent thumbs up from SAG members and 86 percent from AFTRA.
STORY: SAG-AFTRA Moves Toward Halting Music Video Work
And, no, “SAG filed its answer” is not a typo. In a bizarre twist, the suit as it stands continues to name the now defunct organization as a defendant. The SAG/AFTRA merger agreement says that the new union “shall be substituted for SAG . . . as a party to any suit” in which SAG is a party, and SAG-AFTRA and the plaintiffs stipulated to such a substitution – but the stipulation was denied ten days ago by federal judge James Otero.
A source told The Hollywood Reporter that the proper procedure is apparently for the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to name the new defendant as successor to the old. However, no such amended complaint has been submitted in the case, resulting in today’s filing on behalf of an entity that no longer exists: “Screen Actors Guild, a dissolved corporation.”
EXCLUSIVE: SAG’s David White Becomes Sole Exec Director of SAG-AFTRA
The answer contends, among other things, that the lawsuit is moot now that merger has passed; is not ripe (i.e., is premature), in that the claimed future impairment of SAG members’ pension and health benefits is speculative and has not actually occurred; and is an attempt to get the court to inappropriately intrude into internal union affairs. The filing asks that the lawsuit be dismissed and that the union be awarded its attorneys fees and costs.
A similar answer was filed today by the individual defendants in the suit, SAG-AFTRA co-president Ken Howard, co-secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino and executive vice-president Ned Vaughn, vice-presidents Mike Hodge and David Hartley-Margolin and national executive director David White.
As THR previously reported, the current lawsuit is the fourth filed by in the last six years against SAG by members of the MembershipFirst group, whose leaders are key plaintiffs in the current suit.
The plaintiffs in the case are Martin Sheen, Edward Asner, Ed Harris, Valerie Harper, Clancy Brown, James Remar, George Coe, Diane Ladd, Lainie Kazan, Nichelle Nichols, Renee Aubry, Jane Austin, Erick Avari, Steve Barr, Sara Barrett, Terrance Beasor, Michael Bell, Warren Berlinger, Joe Bologna, Ralph Brennen, Alexandra Castro, Jude Ciccolella, Cynthia Lea Clark, David Clennon, Joe D’Angerio, Patricia D’Arbanville, Dick Gautier, Dorothy Goulah, Marty Grey, Sumi Haru, Angel Harper, Basil Hoffman, David Huddleston, Anne-Marie Johnson, David Jolliffe, Kerrie Keane, Peter Kwong, Kurt Lott, Barbara Luna, Eric Lutes, Stephen Macht, Michael McConnohie, Peter Antico, Susan McNabb, Phyllis Timbes, Marguerite Moreau, Traci Murray, Nicole Mandich, Larry Newman, Barbara Niven, Kathleen Nolan, Jack Ong, Peggy Lane O’Rourke, Leslie Parrish, Scott Pierce, Robin Riker, Stephanie Rose, Alan Rosenberg, Alan Ruck, Wendy Schaal, Tascha Schaal, Nancy Sinatra, Cynthia Steele, Renee Taylor, Malachi Throne, Beverly Todd, Jessica WrightandMomo Yashima. In addition, there are a number of other clients in the litigation who are not listed as plaintiffs, including Paul Edney.
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