September 16, 2004
Letter from Curtis Kennedy
 Colvin v. Qwest.

   

Wesley Colvin
Nelson Phelps, President and Executive Director
ASSOCIATION OF U S WEST RETIREES
AUSWR Board Members
general membership

      The mediation before Justice William Neighbors on September 14 successfully resulted in an agreement for a settlement that will benefit over 4,000 Qwest retirees concerning the loss of the retiree telephone concession litigated in the case of Colvin v. Qwest.

    Essentially, each of the 4,000 retirees will get a lump sum payment of $300 - a total of about $1.2 million to be paid out by Qwest.  Also, everyone will have the opportunity to switch to Qwest for free unlimited long distance for the rest of his or her life!  That is a lot of free long distance!  This component could be worth over $5 million.  In exchange for the unlimited free long distance service -- for calls placed anywhere in the continental United States -- Qwest will no longer reimburse for the residential telephone service charges made by a non-Qwest competitive company.  Should the retiree later move residence back into a Qwest local service area, or in-franchise area, the retiree will receive the telephone concession provided to those retirees in the in-franchise area.

      I join the retiree representatives in proclaiming this to be a fair and satisfactory outcome, especially in light of the alternative -- years of litigation and appeals and no assurance of complete success and satisfaction for everyone.  Kudos to Qwest, the Union (CWA), Wesley Colvin and your retiree organization -- AUSWR -- which organization was instrumental in asking everyone involved (thousands of retirees) to send me all supporting evidence they collected over the years, which evidence I presented to Qwest's legal counsel.  No doubt that overwhelming evidence caused decision makers to do the right thing and enter into this settlement agreement.  And AUSWR's efforts were helped immensely by the Union's cooperation.  The Union was on the same page with AUSWR.

    Most important, the agreement, once approved by the court, will be binding upon Qwest and all successors in interest.

    Within the next few weeks or month, this agreement will be presented to the trial judge for approval in the Colvin v. Qwest case as a class settlement.  It must be approved by the trial court to be effective.  After the settlement agreement is presented to the judge for preliminary approval, Qwest will send a written notice to each of the affected 4,000 or more retirees and there will be explanation about how to switch over to Qwest long distance and accept the terms of the settlement.

    The whole settlement process will take several more months and we want to make sure everyone has plenty of time to learn about the settlement and accept it.  Then, there will be a fairness hearing for the trial judge to consider any objections to the proposed settlement and make a final decision on the fairness of the settlement.  So, no one should expect the changes and the lump sum $300 payment to take place this year, but, hopefully it can all be carried out by the end of the first quarter of next year.

    The basic terms of the settlement agreement are outlined in the forwarded email I received yesterday from Qwest legal counsel.  You can read a news article by Business Writer Tom McGhee published in today's edition of the The Denver Post at this URL: http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~33~2404866,00.html  (this article is posted in the general news section)

    Again, the 4,000 or so retirees who lost the telephone concession perk in January of this year will eventually receive in the mail more detailed information about the settlement after the trial court judge in the Colvin v. Qwest case has granted preliminary approval.

    Curtis
  Curtis L. Kennedy
Attorney-at-law
8405 E. Princeton Ave
Denver, CO  80237-1741
303-770-0440
CurtisLKennedy@aol.com

Attachment    (email from Qwest counsel outlining the terms of a class settlement for Colvin v. Qwest case – see below)

         I apologize for my delay in getting this e-mail to you.

                          In accordance with your request at the end of yesterday's mediation, I set forth below the settlement terms to which the parties at the mediation (Qwest Communications International, Inc. (³Qwest²), Wesley Colvin et al on behalf of the putative class in Colvin v. Qwest Communications International, Inc. (³Colvin²), and the Communications Workers of America (the ³Union²)) agreed. Iıd be grateful if you would let me know by responsive e-mail whether you believe this e-mail accurately states the agreed-upon terms. Thereafter, Qwest will (as you suggested) draft a proposed Settlement Agreement and associated documents for your review.

  1.        For purposes of settlement only, Qwest will consent to certification of a class in Colvin consisting of all retirees who: (a) currently live outside of Qwest local service areas and as of December 31, 2003 were receiving reimbursement for amounts paid for telephone services provided by other carriers; and (b) received Qwestıs December 9, 2003 letter notifying them that such reimbursements would be discontinued in January 2004 (the ³Class Members²).

2.       In full settlement of Colvin, Qwest will provide the following to Class Members who do not opt out of the settlement class and who respond, in the manner hereafter to be agreed upon, to the Notice of Settlement sent after court approval within 90 days after such notice is sent:

a)      For the period between the date on which a Class Member switches to Qwest long distance (both IntraLATA and InterLATA) and two months after the death of such Class Member, and in lieu of such Class Memberıs former Telephone Concession Reimbursement, Qwest will reimburse such Class Member for unlimited Qwest IntraLATA and InterLATA long distance at the Class Memberıs primary residence; provided, however, that (i) such reimbursement will cease any time a Class Member moves into an in-franchise area (subject to renewal if the Class Member subsequently moves back into an out-of-franchise area); (ii) such reimbursement will continue if the Class Member changes residence but remains within an out-of-franchise area; (iii) although Qwest will not provide Class Members with calling cards, it will reimburse them for long distance calls they place while traveling if Qwest neednıt pay any amount to a third party in connection with such calls and such benefit is not taxable to the Class Member; and (iv) if a Class Member uses Qwest long distance as of the date on which the court approves the settlement, Qwest will reimburse such Class Member for Qwest IntraLATA and InterLATA long distance charges incurred after the date the settlement is approved.

b)     Qwest will pay each Class Member $300.00 within 60 days of Qwestıs receipt of the Class Memberıs response to the Notice of Settlement referred to above.

3.         In consideration of the benefits described above, Plaintiff and all Class Members will execute a comprehensive and effective release in a form acceptable to Qwest, which will include a release of all claims that have been or could have been asserted by the plaintiff or any Class Member (other than those who validly request exclusion from the settlement class) relating in any way to the Telephone Concession Reimbursement, including without limitation any claims arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (³ERISA²) and any claims asserted in Rathbun v. Qwest Communications International, Inc., et al., now pending in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

4.         Qwest will pay reasonable attorneyıs fees and costs of plaintiffıs counsel in Colvin measured using the lodestar method (reasonable hourly rate time reasonable number of hours spent) upon court approval.

5.         The parties will embody their settlement in a Settlement Agreement and such other documents as may be necessary and appropriate.

6.         Colvin and Qwest will petition the court to stay Colvin pending final approval of the settlement. The Union will likewise stay its Union Retiree Grievance pending court approval of the settlement in Colvin, after which it will dismiss that grievance.

7.         The settlement will be binding on Qwest and the Class Members and their successors, heirs and assigns.

8.         If the court does not approve the settlement for any reason, the parties will revert to their respective positions prior to the negotiations that resulted in the settlement described above.