Lucent Retirees Challenge Health Coverage Changes

October 25, 2005 ( - Three Lucent retirees have hit the communications company with a lawsuit alleging that it did not maintain retiree health coverage even though it was required to do so.

The suit, filed in the United States District Court in Camden, New Jersey, alleges that Lucent violated federal tax law by not maintaining the retiree benefits for a five-year period following its action in September 1999 to transfer substantial “surplus” cash assets from the Lucent Retirement Income Plan to a retiree health care account within that pension plan, according to an Associated Press report.

Named as defendants in addition to the company were the Lucent Employee Benefits Committee and the Lucent Medical Expense Plan for Retired Employees. The named plaintiffs are Peter and Geraldine Raetsch of Reading, Pennsylvania and Curtis Shiflett of Macungie, Pennsylvania.

The suit, which seeks to be certified as a class action representing 235,000 Lucent retirees and dependents, challenges Lucent’s reductions and terminations of retiree medical and prescription drug benefits, as well as increased co-pays, increased contribution requirements and more during the years 2000 through the present.

Many of the Lucent retirees worked for, and retired from, corporate predecessors of Lucent, which was spun off from AT&T in 1996.