Retirees slam Qwest filing
The group says the firm is threatening to end life-insurance
benefits for all if a class-action lawsuit succeeds.
By Kimberly S. Johnson
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Qwest retirees are voicing concern over comments made in a brief
filed by Qwest last week in a case surrounding their
The company said in the legal filing that should the retirees
group succeed in its proposed class-action lawsuit, it could
potentially wipe out life-insurance benefits for all retirees, a
statement that the retirees group views as a threat.
The Association of U S West Retirees filed a lawsuit against
Qwest in 2006 in U.S. District Court in
over a reduction in life-insurance benefits. The plan
originally guaranteed a minimum of $20,000 to survivors of those
who retired before 1996 and a minimum of $30,000 to survivors of
those who retired thereafter. Qwest has lowered the
benefit to $10,000.
With only seven plaintiffs originally named in the suit, the
retirees group is looking to make it a class-action lawsuit.
But in a brief filed by Qwest opposing the class-action request,
the company said that should the retirees prevail, it "would
need to consider terminating the life plan benefits for eligible
retirees altogether in an effort to recoup the amounts it would
For Nelson Phelps, executive director of the retirees
association, and attorney Curtis Kennedy, the statement is an
"open threat" from Qwest.
"It's real shocking to me a corporation would be this crass
. . . so open and blatant in its threats," said Phelps. "I
think what they're trying to do is scare us."
Qwest spokeswoman Diane Reberger said the company opposes the
plaintiffs' desire to turn the lawsuit into a class-action one.
"Qwest offers great retiree benefits," she said. "The
purpose of the filing was to lay out Qwest's argument for why we
believe class-action certification is inappropriate for this
Kennedy is planning to file papers in response to the Qwest
brief early next week.
Kimberly S. Johnson: 303-954-1088 or