PASCAGOULA, Miss. — A judge has removed a lawyer who was overseeing a troubled Mississippi hospital pension plan.

Circuit Judge James Bell said Friday that Steve Simpson, a former judge and state public safety commissioner, had a conflict of interest. Simpson joined a law firm that once advised Singing River Health System on pension issues.

The Sun Herald reports Bell named Jackson County Chancery Clerk Josh Eldridge as the plan’s temporary overseer. Eldridge says he won’t charge the pension plan for work.

The plan covers 3,100 employees and retirees from two county-owned hospitals.

The pension has been frozen for three years with no contributions, as its balance dropped from $150 million to $125 million. Pensions are still being paid, while courts decide on a federal class-action settlement. About 200 retirees oppose the settlement.

Information from: The Sun Herald,

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