U.S. justices reject AT&T appeal

Chris Rizo Jun. 9, 2008, 12:59pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected AT&T Inc.'s appeal of a $31.2 million verdict from a class action lawsuit over lump-sum retirement benefits paid to employees.

The lawsuit, brought by Linda Call alleged that mortality tables the company's pension plan used to calculate retirement benefits wrongly reduced payments to some workers.

The pension plan in the case is the Ameritech Management Pension Plan, which was merged into the AT&T plan in 2005 following a series of corporate mergers.

Call claimed her $219,312 in promised pension benefits were cut by about $36,000 due to a 1999 amendment to the company's plan, which changed the mortality tables.

Call filed the class action lawsuit against the pension plan in October 2001, seeking damages for her and 1,900 fellow employees.

Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, companies are generally barred from altering their pension plans in ways that reduce employees' benefits. In 2004, a U.S. district court said that law was violated.

The court awarded the employees $31.2 million in damages, which included more than $6.4 million in interest. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago affirmed the ruling.

U.S. Justice Department Solicitor General Paul Clement, who argues on behalf of the White House, recommended that the justices reject the appeal.

The case is AT&T Pension Benefit Plan v. Linda Call, 06-1398.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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