TORONTO -- Lawyers representing former Sears Canada workers and their ex-employer are trying to reach an agreement on whether a trustee should be appointed to review $3 billion paid to shareholders.

The appointment is a request from the ex-workers, who are upset the payments were made while their pension fund was short nearly $300 million.

The opposing parties are deliberating behind closed doors today at Ontario Superior Court in Toronto, and have yet to reveal how close they are to an agreement or formally going before a judge.

The bulk of the $3 billion the former workers want scrutinized was paid to U.S. hedge fund ESL Investments and its CEO Eddie Lampert.

Lampert took control of Sears in 2005 and says ESL suffered significant losses from the company's 2017 bankruptcy.

After he and other shareholders were paid by the company, he claims Sears had $500 million in cash available for use and no debt.

Lampert also claims the former employees' $300-million figure is deceitful because it conflates Sears' retirement plan with health, dental and life insurance that he says has gone unfunded since 2008.

In their motion, the workers also say they are owed $400 million for unpaid health and life-insurance benefits.