Retiree Group Hires Law Firms

By The Independent


The UC Livermore Retiree Group signed contracts with three law firms that will analyze its legal situation as it continues to hope to persuade the University of California to readmit Livermore Lab retirees to its health plans without the need for court action. 

The three law firms deal with labor, employment and administrative issues.  Two firms are local: Sinclair Law Office of Oakland and Carter, Carter, and Fries and Grunschlag of San Francisco.   A third, Stember Feinstein Doyle and Payne, is an investigative legal organization from Pittsburgh, Pa.

They will advise the group on the strength of its legal claims, the kind of relief that might be available, and the possibility of various kinds of agreement.

To provide some of the material that the firms will analyze, UC Livermore Retiree Group head Joe Requa has asked Laboratory retirees to search their personal files for anything bearing on the issue of UC retiree health care coverage: letters, brochures, job offers, employee handbooks, policy statements.

Original documents are most valuable, but the law firms can work with copies if necessary, Requa wrote in an email.  “These materials are very important and may play a pivotal role in evaluating the strength of your case,” Requa quoted the law firms as saying.  He is hoping to collect the documents in the coming week.

Livermore Retiree Group has now raised $78,000 towards legal expenses, Requa reported.  This is more than the law firms are said to be charging for the analysis alone. However, remaining funds may be important if Livermore Retiree Group files suit.

The group has stressed that it hopes not to have to sue.  It has briefed University of California Regents and met with UC attorneys in an effort to win accommodation outside the courts.

Lawrence Liveremore National Lab employees and retirees were covered by the UC group health plan under a succession of contracts that lasted more than 50 years, but ended in 2008, when a new contractor took over Laboratory management from University of California.  At the time, the new contract promised continued benefits that were “substantially equivalent” to UC’s. However, the new contractor changed its basic premise a year later.

The new health coverage arrangements have emphasized individual plans that retirees see as less secure and likely to become much more costly as they get older.