Summary of Lawsuit
This lawsuit alleged that the Telephone Concession promised and provided to retirees who live outside the BellSouth Service Area (“Out of Area Telephone Concession”) constituted a defined benefit pension plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), the federal law which protects employee benefits. The lawsuit sought a determination that the Out-of-Service Area Telephone Concession must comply with ERISA and protect the benefits promised to any included employees and retirees – in other words, that neither AT&T nor BellSouth (now a part of AT&T) can reduce or eliminate those benefits. The case is currently closed.
Class Action Allegations
This lawsuit was brought on behalf of the following persons:
- Retirees of a BellSouth Company as of December 29, 2006 who received Telephone Concession and lived outside the BellSouth Service Area and lived outside the AT&T Service Area on or after December 29, 2006; or
- Current or former employees of a BellSouth Participating Company with more than five years of service with a BellSouth Participating Company as of December 29, 2006 who were eligible or who may become eligible to receive Telephone Concession after they retire while they reside outside the BellSouth Service Area and outside the AT&T Service Area; or
- Current spouses of any person in Group 1 or Group 2.
The Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification on August 8, 2008.
Status of the Litigation
Plaintiffs and Defendants filed motions with the Court for a determination whether the OOR Retiree Concession is an ERISA pension plan. After oral argument in September 2009, the Judge issued a decision determining that the BellSouth OOR Retiree Concession is not an ERISA-covered pension plan. Plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Fifth Circuit. After oral argument on January 31, 2011, the Fifth Circuit issued a decision on June 3, 2011, affirming the District Court's decision. Plaintiffs petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari and that petition was denied on December 5, 2011.
The Court’s determination only means that the Bellsouth Telephone Concession is not a pension plan covered by ERISA (the federal law that protects employee benefits). As such, the benefit promised by BellSouth to its retirees may be protected by state law. In the event that AT&T (which now owns BellSouth) changes your telephone concession after you retire, you may want to contact us about your rights under state law.
What Information Do We Need From You
If AT&T changes your Telephone Concession after you retire, you may want to contact us about your rights under state law. We will want to obtain some information in order to investigate your claim, including your years of service with a BellSouth Participating Company and the change to your Telephone Concession. There is no charge to you for us to assist you in evaluating your claim.
Whom to Contact for More Information
If you are a member of the proposed class (defined above) who is receiving or eligible to receive an Out-of-Service Area Telephone Concession after you retire, or you have information which might assist us in the prosecution of these allegations, please contact one of the following persons:
R. Joseph Barton, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
1100 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005
Telephone: 888-240-0775 or 202-408-4600