FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 4/27/07
For Information Contact:
NRLN Files Amicus Brief In Lucent Retirees’ Appeal Of Court Upholding Lucent Technologies’ Elimination of Retirement Benefit
Retiree Group Wants U.S. Appeals Court To Remand
Dismissed Case Back To District Court For Further Proceedings
(WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2007) The president of the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) today announced the filing of an Amicus Brief with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in an effort to assist Lucent Technologies retirees regain the pensioner death benefit eliminated by the company in 2003.
“When an employer eliminates our members’ retirement benefit that should be protected by law, the NRLN has a duty to seek justice for the affected retirees,” said Jim Norby, NRLN president. “We believe the U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J. erred in its November 2006 order of dismissal and judgment that the Pension Death Benefits were unprotected welfare benefits subject to post-retirement elimination.”
Norby said the NRLN is joining the Lucent retiree plaintiffs-appellants in asking that the case be remanded back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings.
Since October 2003, retirees have been engaged in a legal battle with Lucent over the company’s February 1, 2003 elimination of the death benefit that was equivalent to one year’s compensation payable to a surviving spouse. Lucent’s action impacted approximately 50,000 management retirees.
On November 30, 2006, Lucent merged with France’s Alcatel and the company is now known as Alcatel-Lucent.
“While this case focuses on Lucent retiree pension benefits, its outcome could also impact NRLN members retired from other companies across the country,” said Norby, whose organization voices the interests of some two million retirees. “The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is intended to protect retirees’ interests and we believe that the lower court failed to properly apply the law to the Lucent retirees’ case.”
The NRLN engaged Curtis Kennedy, a Denver-based attorney highly experienced in ERISA litigation who has worked extensively on behalf of Bell System retirees, to prepare an Amicus Brief to voice the NRLN’s position on the case, Norby said. An Amicus Brief—often called a “friend of the court” brief—is a document filed in a legal proceeding by an interested party who is not directly part of the case, but who believes that the court’s decision may affect its interest.
A copy of the Amicus Brief filed on April 26, 2007 with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is available on the NRLN website at http://www.nrln.org/NRLNAmicusBrief.pdf .
Based in Washington, D.C., the NRLN is dedicated to securing federal legislation that will guarantee the fair and equitable treatment of retirees in the private and public sector. The NRLN represents a non-partisan, grass roots coalition of retiree associations with a combined membership of some two million men and women who are seeking to protect their pension and healthcare benefits. For more information, visit the NRLN Website at http://www.nrln.org .
# # #