UCLRG Status Report
(Draft: 3/22/13. 2:30 pm)
Our case has been sent back to the Alameda County Superior Court by the Court of Appeal. If we continue along our current path, we will move into the Discovery phase of the trial, asking UC to locate additional documents and information that supports the allegations we have made, taking depositions, etc.
Choices on How to Proceed:
We can continue to pursue the writ of mandate to reinstate the plaintiffs to the UC medical benefit program and hope that, if we win, UC will reinstate other retirees. Alternatively,, we can amend the lawsuit to make it a class action that includes all UC retirees from the Livermore Laboratory Below is a link to a ballot we would like you to cast after reading this report.
Lawyers’ First Suggestion:
Our lawyers suggest that we consider expanding our writ of mandate to include class action allegations. Several steps would be involved.
First, we would need to make a motion to amend the petition to include class action allegations. A motion is required because we need permission from the court to amend the petition. The “class action” allegations would define who would be in the class. (Generally, the class would be all retirees from the Livermore Lab who lost their medical benefits.)
Second, we would need to make a motion to “certify” the class. Certification basically consists of convincing the court that members of the class are numerous, identifiable, and share a common injury. The court must also be satisfied that the “class representatives” will adequately represent all members of the class. The class representatives have a fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the class. The current plaintiffs can most likely serve as class representatives, although we may want to include one or two additional plaintiffs.
To be certified, the court must also be satisfied that the attorneys are competent and qualified to represent the class.
There are several advantages to a Class Action. First and foremost, everyone in the class is included rather than a select set of plaintiffs. Second, every class member would be entitled to damages if we win. Damages have a statute of limitations of three years, so the sooner we make the change, the more we can expect. (Once the class action is in place, future damages are added to the previous three years damages to determine total damages.) And finally, the attorneys believe there is a better chance to recover attorneys’ fees if we win a class action (which would mean we may be able to repay the funds that we have raised).
Lawyers’ Second Suggestion:
The attorneys recommend that we bring in a California law firm that has expertise in class actions. We will meet with representatives of the law firm and then make a decision.
If we go with a class action, each member of the class will
have an opportunity to opt out of the action, so the change would not force any
class member to join us. Anyone who opts out retains the right to bring a later
action on his or her behalf.
Time wise, it is possible a class action would move faster than the current writ of mandate, although it is hard to predict with any certainty. We can also ask the Court for expedited handling because of the age of the class members (whether it is class action or not, although this requires a separate motion).
Costs and Expenses:
If we decide to amend the petition to add class action allegations, the cost for the next phase (that is, filing the motion to amend and getting the class certified) will cost about $75,000. We currently have $25,000 in donations toward the next step. However, our lawyers recommend that we set aside about $25,000 to cover the initial costs of discovery. So we should plan in raising $75,000.
If we do not amend the petition, we will begin “discovery,” which is likely to cost at least $75,000, plus $25,000 for out-of-pocket costs (e.g. deposition transcripts, etc.).
How Do We Decide?
In the past we have polled our past donors for their opinions and how much funding they will provide to us. In this case, two polls are in order. First, we will poll our supporters to get their opinion of which path we should choose. The Officers of the UCLRG Legal Defense Fund will have to meet and decide our course. With a little luck, the poll results will provide a definitive answer so we don’t have to work to hard.
Second, we will poll our supporters to determine if we can expect to receive enough financial support to continue. We believe the decision to further support us will be easier to make if you know our future plans first. If you would like to send a check without waiting for the second poll, here are the donation instructions,
Make checks out to:
UCLRG Legal Defense Fund
Send Donations to:
UCLRG Legal Defense Fund
C/O Barbara Sokoloski
1144 Xavier Way
Livermore, CA 94550
We plan to have the first poll complete within two weeks and have a decision on future directions within 3 weeks.
Link to poll repeated