Deere Retirees File Lawsuit over Reduced Benefits

September 11, 2008 ( - Lawyers representing an estimated 5,000 Deere & Co. retirees filed a class-action lawsuit Monday demanding the company restore health benefits that were cut back this year.

According to the DesMoines Register, the suit alleges Moline, Illinois-based Deere broke longtime promises to its employees when the company on January 1 “eliminated, reduced and dramatically altered” benefits pledged under retiree health plans.

Court papers say the company for more than 15 years promised lifetime health benefits to employees who vested in Deere & Co. pension plans, according to the newspaper. Documents estimate that employees who retired on or after July 1, 1993, have received lesser health care as a result of the 2008 changes.

The changes are described in court papers as “significantly higher deductibles,” the elimination of a maximum on the amount of out-of-pocket expenses, increased co-payments for prescription drugs, and the elimination of any coverage for chiropractors.

Deere & Co. spokesman Ken Golden said in a written statement that the company has not seen the lawsuit but plans to defend itself vigorously in court. He also dismissed the idea that retirees were harmed by the 2008 change.