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September 2, 2005
Mimi Hull, President
Board Members and general membership
This update concerns the Kerber v. Qwest  case (Pension Death Benefits case).  As you know from the July 28, 2005 update, we attempted to reach a resolution that would result in an agreement to voluntarily dismiss the Pension Death Benefits litigation.  However, no agreement was reached.  Therefore, on August 12, Qwest was required to respond to the pending Amended Complaint which concerns Qwest's announced position that the Pension Death Benefit is not a protected benefit.  Qwest's position is that the Pension Death Benefit is a "take away" benefit.  Indeed, in September 2003, the Company was fully prepared to send out a letter telling all retirees that the Pension Death Benefit was going to be ended.  After an immense uproar by your AUSWR leadership and an intense letter writing campaign by numerous retirees, the company decided to "delay" the decision.  But, Qwest senior leadership still maintain that the Pension Death Benefit is a "take away" benefit that could be ended at any time.
On August 12, 2005, Qwest's legal counsel filed a formal request -- a motion to dismiss -- asking the Denver Federal Judge to dismiss the pending case.  Qwest's position is that there is no "case or controversy," since the Company has not yet taken away the Pension Death Benefit.  You can go to this URL and read a copy of the company's legal brief (19 pages):
Yesterday morning, September 1, I filed a legal brief in opposition to the company's position.  You can go to this URL and read a copy of the legal brief (16 pages):
The pending motion to dismiss will await a decision by Denver Federal Judge Marcia Krieger, who has a lot of cases pending before her.  But, perhaps, we will get a ruling from her before the end of this year.  Nothing further will happen in this case until after this motion is ruled upon or on October 15, 2005, when Qwest has to make some required disclosures to our side.
The legal issues in this case are significant not only for your retiree group, but for other retiree groups and individual retirees who, too, are faced with the possibility that companies who inherited part of the old Bell System may choose to eliminate the Pension Death Benefit.  Most of you already know that Lucent Technologies did that dastardly deed several years ago and there is litigation challenging that action in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.  To learn more, you should visit the "Legal Developments" page at the AUSWR  website and under the heading "Death Benefit Litigation - Kerber v. Qwest" view all of the updates, the Amended Complaint and other legal papers that have been posted.