Summary of the Lawsuit

This lawsuit, Scott v. AT&T Inc., Case No. 3:20-cv-070904-JD, United States District Court of the Northern District of California, filed on October 12, 2020, is brought on behalf of a class of participants and beneficiaries in the AT&T Pension Benefit Plan (the “AT&T Plan”). Plaintiffs allege that Defendants AT&T Inc. and AT&T Services violated the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). Through these violations, Plaintiffs allege that they were deprived of accrued, vested pension benefits when they receive their pension benefit in the form of a Joint and Survivor Annuity, the default form of benefit for married participants. This has resulted in AT&T Plan participants and beneficiaries receiving less than the actuarial equivalent of their vested accrued benefit, contrary to ERISA’s requirements. This lawsuit seeks to recover amounts due to members of the class, and to amend the AT&T Plan to fully comply with protections afforded by ERISA to defined benefit pension plan participants and beneficiaries. 

Scott v. AT&T Inc. et al does not challenge AT&T’s lump sum calculations. Scott v. AT&T Inc. is distinct from a prior lawsuit, Eliason v. AT&T, Inc., which asserted similar claims involving the AT&T Plan’s lump sum computations. On September 28, 2020, Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim dismissed Eliason v. AT&T Inc. on procedural grounds. 

Class Action Allegations

This lawsuit is brought on behalf of two proposed classes of people. The Retired Class includes all AT&T Plan participants and their beneficiaries who are receiving a Joint and Survivor Annuity that is less than the value of their Single Life Annuity when converted to a Joint and Survivor Annuity using the interest rates and mortality tables set forth in 26 U.S.C. § 417(e), excluding those participants and beneficiaries in the Mobility  Program,  the  Mobility  Bargained  Program, and the DIRECTV Program.

The Pre-Retirement Class includes all AT&T Plan participants and their beneficiaries who have not commenced receiving benefits, excluding those participants and beneficiaries in the Mobility Program, the Mobility Bargained Program, and the DIRECTV Program.

Excluded from the Class are Defendants and members of their immediate families or any of their heirs, successors, or assigns.

Status of the Litigation

Plaintiffs’ counsel initiated Scott v. AT&T Inc. et al., on October 12, 2020 in the United States District Court of the Northern District of California. The case was assigned to District Judge James Donato. On January 1, 2021, Plaintiffs amended their complaint and narrowed their dispute to the Joint and Survivor Annuity provided by the AT&T Plan.

Defendants moved to transfer the case to Texas or dismiss the case outright. On April 8, 2021, after reviewing the parties’ written and oral argument, Judge Donato denied Defendants’ motions in their entirety and permitted the case to proceed in California.

On October 5, 2021, Judge Donato granted Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file a second amended complaint which adds several new named plaintiffs. Plaintiffs filed the second amended complaint with the Court on October 7, 2021. Defendants again moved to dismiss the case, and, on June 29, 2022, Judge Donato again denied Defendants’ motion.

On June 6, 2022, Plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification, which Defendants opposed. The motion is fully briefed, and oral argument will occur on May 25, 2023. On October 10, 2022, Plaintiffs and Defendants jointly requested a 90-day continuance of the hearing on the motion for class certification (previously scheduled for October 27, 2022) to allow the parties to engage in settlement negotiations. The Court thereafter vacated the October 27 hearing and stayed the case until January 17, 2023. The parties did not reach a settlement during a December 22, 2022 mediation.

Plaintiffs subsequently filed their motion for leave to file a third amended complaint and substitute class representatives for the Pre-Retirement Class. The motion is fully briefed, and the Court will hold oral argument on this motion at the same time as Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification on May 25, 2023.

On March 9, 2023, Defendants moved for summary judgment on most of Plaintiffs’ claims and moved to exclude the testimony of Plaintiffs’ experts. Plaintiffs opposed both motions. Defendants will file reply briefs on or before May 18, 2023, and the Court will hold oral argument on these motions on June 22, 2023.

The Court has set November 13, 2023 as the preliminary start date for trial.

Whom to Contact for More Information

If you are a member of the proposed class or have information which might assist us in the prosecution of these allegations, please contact one of the following persons:

Michelle C. Yau (email)
Daniel R. Sutter (email)
Caroline E. Bressman (email)
Sydney Greenman, Paralegal (email)

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
1100 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005