Halliburton sues retirees in attempt to stop paying health benefits
31 July 2004
WASHINGTON, July 31 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- Three Halliburton retirees complained in a letter last January about the company's plan to discontinue health insurance benefits for retirees who are eligible for Medicare. In response, Halliburton sued them. The retirees say a 1998 merger agreement between Halliburton and Dresser Industries requires Halliburton to continue paying health insurance benefits to 4,000 salaried retirees. But Halliburton says it repeatedly declared in the merger agreement that it retained the right to terminate those benefits after the merger.###
The company said it filed the lawsuit in order to quickly resolve the dispute. But certain legal advantages accrue to Halliburton by filing the lawsuit before the retirees file a lawsuit, including the advantage of choosing which court will adjudicate the dispute. It also allows Halliburton to present its legal arguments first. All parties have asked U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes in Houston to certify the case as a class action when it comes up for a hearing on Aug. 16.
This is not the first complaint over the merger between Halliburton and Dresser Industries. In a separate dispute, employees had complained that the merger agreement cost them the full early retirement pensions they had spent their careers working for. Employees say they lost $25 million, or $50,000 per worker, because of the merger agreement, which shifted Dresser's pension plan into a less generous Halliburton pension plan. Nine months after plundering $25 million from the Dresser pension, Halliburtonís board of directors, with Dick Cheney as its chairman, awarded Cheney a $20 million pension.
Houston Chronicle: Halliburton sues retirees over health benefit cutback
Associated Press: Halliburton Sues Retired Executives