A federal judge in Philadelphia last week ordered Unisys Corp. to restore the low-cost lifetime medical benefits of 12 retirees, as a test case in a lawsuit filed by hundreds of former workers accusing the company of reneging on its promises.
U.S. District Judge Bruce W. Kauffman made the ruling based on evidence presented in an October 2005 bench trial, after which U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter concluded that 12 out of 14 retirees proved their breach of fiduciary duty claims against Unisys.
The retirees claimed that Philadelphia-based Unisys, and predecessor Burroughs Corp., misled them about guaranteed low-cost medical benefits for life.
Unisys, an information technology services firm, argued that its plan documents say that the company has a right to change or end the benefits.
Judge Kauffman’s ruling on the 12 retirees sets the stage for decisions on benefits for over 200 retirees in the lawsuit.
“Despite repeated rulings by the federal courts that it broke the law, Unisys continues to exploit legal maneuvers to delay the case and avoid justice for our aging clients,” said Alan Sandals, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, in a statement.
A spokesman for Unisys said the company disagrees with the ruling and is reviewing its options.
Unisys has settled most of the similar lawsuits covering about 21,000 nonunion retirees, dating back to 1992. They were employees of Burroughs and Sperry Corp., which merged to form Unisys in 1986.
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