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Court rejects Cat retirees’ claim to lifetime health benefits

U.S. district court in Tennessee said union-represented employees who retired while no contract was in effect in the mid-1990s aren’t entitled to lifetime health benefits, which were provided in a contract that expired amid a protracted labor dispute. From the Peoria Journal Star:

… their right to receive those benefits did not vest until they actually retired, not when they became eligible for the benefit but continued working, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled in a majority decision.

Also, the court said Tuesday, most of the 4,000 plaintiffs retired when there was no labor contract in effect between Caterpillar and the United Auto Workers. The 1988 contract granting the benefit had expired in 1991, and the 1998 contract did not grant the benefit.

The court’s ruling, written by Judge Boyce Martin Jr., sent the case back to U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger and directed her to dismiss any claims in the lawsuit that hinge on the plaintiffs’ theory that retirees’ medical benefits vested before actual retirement.

That, the court said, could resolve the vast majority of the claims. In other words, it could gut the plaintiffs’ case.

Not much to say here without taking sides, so I’ll just skip it.

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:52 pm January 27th, 2009 |

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