We have received a lawyer/client privileged communication from our lawyers laying out our two options. The first is simple, capitulation. The second is multistep with each step depending on the outcome of the previous one.
The first step would be to appeal the JudgeÕs ruling on the Demurrer. Our lawyers are willing to take that step for $75,000.
If we lose that step, we either capitulate or appeal to the California Supreme Court. The Court may or may not be willing to hear our appeal and we donÕt know a cost for that step.
If we win either of the appeals, the court may issue a directed verdict or may send the case back to the current Court for reconsideration. If the case is sent back, we again face an unknown additional cost.
We wonÕt have a list of effected retirees to solicit funds from, so any additional action will have to be funded by the current group.
There are three groups; retirees, plaintiffs and fund officers, who should have a say in what we do next. We are in the process of getting input from the second and third groups. This status report will begin the process of getting retiree input. We will follow it with a questionnaire asking if you are for or against continuing and, if you are for, how much, if any, you are willing to contribute. If enough people are for continuing and it looks like we will be able to raise enough funds, we will follow up with a request for funds. If we get to that point, we will hold rather than cash checks received until we either have enough money or our deadline has passed. If the deadline passes, we will destroy the checks and notify the donors. We have 60 days after the Demurrer ruling is finalized to file an appeal.
Several people have asked why we didnÕt use the argument Òall UC retirees must be treated the sameÓ. The answer is that the VERIP3 case, where Lab employees sued UC because they were not offered the same early retirement package as other UC employees, established the precedent that Lab employees could be treated differently from other UC employees.
Another question is why we didnÕt try to enforce the terms of the UC/DOE management contract that, at least in my interpretation, said UC would retain responsibility for us and DOE would pay the bill. That is the first thing I tried when we were transferred to LLNS. I put together a case and located a lawyer practicing in the Court of Federal Claims who was willing to work with me. The first thing he did was check precedents and found the Court had not been authorized by Congress to hear third party claims against federal contracts.
There is a case in the California Supreme Court, brought by Orange County employees that may have some influence on our situation. The County split itÕs group insurance pool into two parts, one for active employees and one for retirees, thereby making retiree medical benefits more expensive. We are in the same position with respect to LLNS so a favorable decision in that case might open a window of opportunity for us.