July 24, 2007
Mimi Hull, President
ASSOCIATION OF U S WEST RETIREES (AUSWR)
AUSWR Board Members and General Members
As I stated in the update sent to you on July 6, the first and most important issue presented in the Kerber v. Qwest Group Life Insurance Plan case is whether or not Plan sponsor Qwest is bound by the rules that Basic Life Insurance Coverage “shall not be reduced below” the stated coverage amounts set forth in the 1998 Governing Plan Document. Plaintiffs-Retirees contend those rules circumscribe Qwest’s discretionary rights under the ‘reservation of rights’ provision in the Plan, meaning it was illegal for Qwest to skirt the rules and implement Plan Amendment 2006-1 which was adopted on December 13, 2006.
On July 16, 2007 defense counsel for Qwest Defendants filed a 'reply brief' for the pending motion to dismiss. A copy of the 20 page document is posted at the AUSWR website: http://www.uswestretiree.org/Docket24-MotionDismissReplyBrief.pdf Bottom line: Qwest Defendants contend that since the rules about no reductions below the stated minimums did not appear in the same paragraph which gave the company the right to make changes (i.e., the 'reservation of rights' clause), the rules can be ignored. Qwest Defendants contend they acted to reduce coverage to $10,000 pursuant to the reservation of rights clause which did not incorporate the 'rules' forbidding reductions in coverage below the established minimums.
In other words, the Company's defense is if all the rules are not in a single big paragraph, in the same place so as to modify the ‘reservation of rights’ statement, the other rules can be ignored. Hopefully, before this year is out, we will learn whether that makes any sense to Denver Federal Judge Walker Miller who will decide this dispute.
The first court date for the Kerber v. Qwest Group Life Insurance Plan case is Monday, August 13, 2007 when the Magistrate Judge meets with all legal counsel and enters a schedule for the case. I will try to persuade him to set this case for a public hearing on the pending motion to dismiss at the earliest opportunity. A few days after the August 13 scheduling conference, the Court’s Scheduling Order will be posted at the AUSWR website, where you can find all other significant court filings and documents concerning this litigation. See: http://www.uswestretiree.org/legal2.htm#gli