UCLRG Status Report 5/18/11

 

Demurrer Hearing

 

We had our Demurrer hearing this morning. Like most legal activities, it wasn’t definitive. Dov spoke for out side and one of the UC lawyers for UC. There were no formal introductions at the hearing, so I don’t know her name,

 

The basic issues were:

  1. Did the Regents intend to bind themselves to a contract to provide lifetime medical benefits?
  2. Are the statements made in our various handbooks reservations of rights that give UC the right to do whatever they like?

 

  On the first question, the UC lawyer stuck to UC’s position that a contract didn’t exist because no legislation was passed providing retiree medical benefits and we have not provided any resolution by the Regents providing them. The issue is a bit clouded by the fact that UC doesn’t have a historical record of the Standing Orders of the Regents, which contained the information that was to be definitive if there were any differences between the pamphlets handed to us and the actual legal obligation. I would infer that any differences would be minimal, assuming UC didn’t purposively mislead us, but I wasn’t asked to give my opinion.

 

UC also makes an issue about retiree medical benefits lasting in perpetuity. Dov shot that one down by observing that UC stated that they would last as long as the retiree received pension benefits, a finite time.

 

The reservations of rights statements are problematical to say the least. The Judge and UC lawyers tend to read them as true reservations. Dove pointed out that there is another reasonable interpretation of their meaning. Since they normally follow statements that we will receive medical benefits, they can be taken as descriptions of how those benefits may evolve over time. Even “may be terminated” makes sense in this context. If the US ever passes universal medical coverage, UC might be required to terminate their program as a result of the new law.

 

Our lawyers think the Judge missed the fact that he was dealing with UC retirees who retired while the Lab was under UC management.  not LLNL retirees in general. In one exchange, the Judge asked “would you like me to out you under UC so they can terminate you?” and Dov replied, “please do, that is exactly what we are asking for.”

 

The hearing lasted about one half hour. At the end, the Judge stated he would issue a tentative ruling including some detailed information. He is allowed 60 days to do so, but our lawyers expect it to come much sooner, possibly within a week.  If he denies the Demurrer, we will continue with preparing our case. If he grants the Demurrer, we have 90 days to appeal his decision. There exists a third possibility, the judge can grant a tentative ruling for one side with permission to amend to the other side, which is what he did last time.

 

Hopefully the next status report will contain something definitive, either good or bad.