Lab retirees to file appeal

 The Independent     Aug. 4, 2011


            A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory retiree group expects to file a legal appeal by Monday in hopes of overturning a judge's ruling that they are not entitled to return to University of California medical insurance programs.

            The group, called UC Livermore Lab Retirees Group, represents some but not all Laboratory retirees.  It is separate from the retiree association that is still affiliated with the Laboratory, although many retirees are members of both organizations.

            Laboratory retirees were removed from UC medical coverage in 2008 when a new contractor took over management of the Laboratory for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy.

            The new contractor, Lawrence Livermore National Security, offers medical insurance that is consistent with industrial standards, which the retirees find more complicated, less reliable and in many cases more expensive than the university programs they formerly belonged to.

            The retirees filed suit against the University a year ago on the grounds that there was at least an implied contract to continue them in the medical benefits programs that were still being offered to retirees from the UC campuses.

            In May of this year, Judge Frank Roesch of Superior Court in Oakland ruled in the University's favor, finding that the retirees' attorneys had failed to demonstrate any contractual commitment to continue the relationship.

            The retirees have raised about $26,000 to support the appeal, according to Joe Requa, head of the group.  In the past, he has estimated that the appeal might take about a year, and the group needs to raise about $50,000 more to continue the legal process, he said.

            The appeal has to be filed by Monday, August 8, if the retirees are to have a chance of benefiting from a case now before the California Supreme Court.  That case has to do with preserving Orange County employee medical benefits in the face of budget cuts.   If a Supreme Court ruling favors the county employees, the Livermore retirees' appeal may be strengthened, the group's attorneys believe.

            After Monday, August 8, Roesch's decision would be final and the Orange County decision would have no impact.