U.S. High Court Rebuffs AT&T Pension Suit Appeal

June 9, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal by AT&T of a lower court's $31.2-million verdict against the company in a class action lawsuit over its defined benefit pension plan.

The court’s decision, made without comment, lets the lower court verdict stand, according to an Associated Press news report.

A federal district court ruled in favor of plaintiff Ameritech employee Linda Call and awarded the plaintiffs $31.2 million in damages, which included more than $6 million in interest. Call had filed a class action suit against the pension plan in October 2001, seeking damages for her and 1,900 fellow employees.

The disputed issue is whether the Ameritech plan improperly cut back retirement benefits in 1999. Ameritech changed its plan in July 1999 by amending the mortality tables used to calculate retirement benefits.

Ameritech was bought by SBC Communications later that year, which, in 2005 acquired AT&T.

The AP said Call chose early retirement and took a lump sum payment of her benefits, according to court filings. She charged that the pension plan amendment cost her $36,000, reducing the payment to $219,000.

The case is AT&T Pension Benefit Plan v. Linda Call, 06-1398.