September 16, 2004
Letter from Curtis Kennedy
Colvin v. Qwest.
Nelson Phelps, President and Executive Director
ASSOCIATION OF U S WEST RETIREES
AUSWR Board Members
The mediation before Justice William Neighbors on September 14
successfully resulted in an agreement for a settlement that will benefit over
4,000 Qwest retirees concerning the loss of the retiree telephone concession
litigated in the case of Colvin v. Qwest.
Essentially, each of the 4,000 retirees will get a lump sum payment of $300
- a total of about $1.2 million to be paid out by Qwest. Also, everyone will
have the opportunity to switch to Qwest for free unlimited long distance for the
rest of his or her life! That is a lot of free long distance! This component
could be worth over $5 million. In exchange for the unlimited free long
distance service -- for calls placed anywhere in the continental United States
-- Qwest will no longer reimburse for the residential telephone service charges
made by a non-Qwest competitive company. Should the retiree later move
residence back into a Qwest local service area, or in-franchise area, the
retiree will receive the telephone concession provided to those retirees in the
I join the retiree representatives in proclaiming this to be a fair and
satisfactory outcome, especially in light of the alternative -- years of
litigation and appeals and no assurance of complete success and satisfaction for
everyone. Kudos to Qwest, the Union (CWA), Wesley Colvin and your retiree
organization -- AUSWR -- which organization was instrumental in asking everyone
involved (thousands of retirees) to send me all supporting evidence
they collected over the years, which evidence I presented to Qwest's legal
counsel. No doubt that overwhelming evidence caused decision makers to do the
right thing and enter into this settlement agreement. And AUSWR's efforts
were helped immensely by the Union's cooperation. The Union was on the same
page with AUSWR.
Most important, the agreement, once approved by the court, will be binding
upon Qwest and all successors in interest.
Within the next few weeks or month, this agreement will be presented to the
trial judge for approval in the Colvin v. Qwest case as a class settlement. It
must be approved by the trial court to be effective. After the settlement
agreement is presented to the judge for preliminary approval, Qwest will send a
written notice to each of the affected 4,000 or more retirees and there will be
explanation about how to switch over to Qwest long distance and accept the terms
of the settlement.
The whole settlement process will take several more months and we want to
make sure everyone has plenty of time to learn about the settlement and accept
it. Then, there will be a fairness hearing for the trial judge to consider any
objections to the proposed settlement and make a final decision on the fairness
of the settlement. So, no one should expect the changes and the lump sum $300
payment to take place this year, but, hopefully it can all be carried out by the
end of the first quarter of next year.
The basic terms of the settlement agreement are outlined in the forwarded
email I received yesterday from Qwest legal counsel. You can read a news
article by Business Writer Tom McGhee published in today's edition of the The
Denver Post at this URL: http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~33~2404866,00.html
(this article is posted in the general news section)
Again, the 4,000 or so retirees who lost the telephone concession perk in
January of this year will eventually receive in the mail more detailed
information about the settlement after the trial court judge in the Colvin v.
Qwest case has granted preliminary approval.
Curtis L. Kennedy
8405 E. Princeton Ave
Denver, CO 80237-1741
Attachment (email from Qwest counsel outlining the terms of a class
settlement for Colvin v. Qwest case see below)
I apologize for my delay in getting this e-mail to you.
In accordance with your request at the end of
yesterday's mediation, I set forth below the settlement terms to which the
parties at the mediation (Qwest Communications International, Inc. (³Qwest²),
Wesley Colvin et al on behalf of the putative class in Colvin v. Qwest
Communications International, Inc. (³Colvin²), and the Communications Workers of
America (the ³Union²)) agreed. Iıd be grateful if you would let me know by
responsive e-mail whether you believe this e-mail accurately states the
agreed-upon terms. Thereafter, Qwest will (as you suggested) draft a proposed
Settlement Agreement and associated documents for your review.
1. For purposes of settlement only, Qwest will consent to certification
of a class in Colvin consisting of all retirees who: (a) currently live outside
of Qwest local service areas and as of December 31, 2003 were receiving
reimbursement for amounts paid for telephone services provided by other
carriers; and (b) received Qwestıs December 9, 2003 letter notifying them that
such reimbursements would be discontinued in January 2004 (the ³Class Members²).
2. In full settlement of Colvin, Qwest will provide the following to Class
Members who do not opt out of the settlement class and who respond, in the
manner hereafter to be agreed upon, to the Notice of Settlement sent after court
approval within 90 days after such notice is sent:
a) For the period between the date on which a Class Member switches to
Qwest long distance (both IntraLATA and InterLATA) and two months after the
death of such Class Member, and in lieu of such Class Memberıs former Telephone
Concession Reimbursement, Qwest will reimburse such Class Member for unlimited
Qwest IntraLATA and InterLATA long distance at the Class Memberıs primary
residence; provided, however, that (i) such reimbursement will cease any time a
Class Member moves into an in-franchise area (subject to renewal if the Class
Member subsequently moves back into an out-of-franchise area); (ii) such
reimbursement will continue if the Class Member changes residence but remains
within an out-of-franchise area; (iii) although Qwest will not provide Class
Members with calling cards, it will reimburse them for long distance calls they
place while traveling if Qwest neednıt pay any amount to a third party in
connection with such calls and such benefit is not taxable to the Class Member;
and (iv) if a Class Member uses Qwest long distance as of the date on which the
court approves the settlement, Qwest will reimburse such Class Member for Qwest
IntraLATA and InterLATA long distance charges incurred after the date the
settlement is approved.
b) Qwest will pay each Class Member $300.00 within 60 days of Qwestıs
receipt of the Class Memberıs response to the Notice of Settlement referred to
3. In consideration of the benefits described above, Plaintiff and all
Class Members will execute a comprehensive and effective release in a form
acceptable to Qwest, which will include a release of all claims that have been
or could have been asserted by the plaintiff or any Class Member (other than
those who validly request exclusion from the settlement class) relating in any
way to the Telephone Concession Reimbursement, including without limitation any
claims arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(³ERISA²) and any claims asserted in Rathbun v. Qwest Communications
International, Inc., et al., now pending in the United States District Court for
the District of Arizona.
4. Qwest will pay reasonable attorneyıs fees and costs of plaintiffıs
counsel in Colvin measured using the lodestar method (reasonable hourly rate
time reasonable number of hours spent) upon court approval.
5. The parties will embody their settlement in a Settlement Agreement
and such other documents as may be necessary and appropriate.
6. Colvin and Qwest will petition the court to stay Colvin pending final
approval of the settlement. The Union will likewise stay its Union Retiree
Grievance pending court approval of the settlement in Colvin, after which it
will dismiss that grievance.
7. The settlement will be binding on Qwest and the Class Members and
their successors, heirs and assigns.
8. If the court does not approve the settlement for any reason, the
parties will revert to their respective positions prior to the negotiations that
resulted in the settlement described above.