PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A judge hearing a challenge by public-sector unions and retirees to Rhode Island’s landmark pension system overhaul on Tuesday ordered the parties into federal mediation a little over a week after the state asked her to dismiss the lawsuit.

Superior Court Associate Justice Sarah Taft-Carter said Tuesday that she had met with the parties in a pretrial conference and that they had all agreed to try mediation in the case. The litigation, or a negotiated settlement, could have far-reaching implications as states across the country grapple to close the vast gap — more than $1.4 trillion nationwide — between what they have set aside for pensions and what they have promised their retirees.

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