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Fulghum v. Embarq Corp.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 14, 2013

WILLIAM DOUGLAS FULGHUM, et al., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
EMBARQ CORPORATION, et al., Defendants

Page 1091

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1092

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1093

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1094

February 14, 2013, Filed

For William Douglas Fulghum, Plaintiff: Alan M. Sandals, Scott Michael Lempert, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Sandals & Associates, P.C., Philadelphia, PA; Amii Castle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Walters Bender Strohbehn & Vaughan, PC, Kansas City, MO; Bruce Keplinger, Christopher J. Lucas, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Norris & Keplinger, L.L.C., Overland Park, KS; Diane A. Nygaard, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Nygaard Law Firm, Leawood, KS; Mary C. O'Connell, R. Douglas Gentile, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Douthit, Frets, Rouse, Gentile & Rhodes, LLC - Leawood, Leawood, KS; Richard T. Seymour, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, PLLC, Washington, DC; Stewart W. Fisher, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Glenn, Mills, Fisher & Mahoney, PA, Durham, NC; Adele Rapport, PRO HAC VICE, Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, PLLC, Washington, DC; Jessica E. Leaven, PRO HAC VICE, Glenn, Mills, Fisher & Mahoney, PA, Durham, NC.

For Dorsey Daniel, John Douglas Hollingsworth, Willie Dorman, Robert E. King, Calvin Bruce Joyner, Timothy Dillon, Sue Barnes, William Games, Betsy Bullock, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs: Alan M. Sandals, Scott Michael Lempert, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Sandals & Associates, P.C., Philadelphia, PA; Diane A. Nygaard, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Nygaard Law Firm, Leawood, KS; Mary C. O'Connell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Douthit, Frets, Rouse, Gentile & Rhodes, LLC - Leawood, Leawood, KS; Richard T. Seymour, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, PLLC, Washington, DC; Stewart W. Fisher, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Glenn, Mills, Fisher & Mahoney, PA, Durham, NC; Adele Rapport, PRO HAC VICE, Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, PLLC, Washington, DC.

For Kenneth A. Carpenter, Betty A. Carpenter, Carl W. Somdahl, Plaintiffs: Alan M. Sandals, Scott Michael Lempert, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Sandals & Associates, P.C., Philadelphia, PA; Diane A. Nygaard, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Nygaard Law Firm, Leawood, KS; Mary C. O'Connell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Douthit, Frets, Rouse, Gentile & Rhodes, LLC - Leawood, Leawood, KS; Stewart W. Fisher, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Glenn, Mills, Fisher & Mahoney, PA, Durham, NC; Adele Rapport, PRO HAC VICE, Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, PLLC, Washington, DC.

For Judith R. Adams, Lois J. Ainsley, Robert D. Aldridge, James L. Alford, Mary S. Allen, Johnny W. Allen, Thomas G. Allgood, Jr., Evelyn A. Alligood, Henry W. Ammons, Estate of, Clara W.L. Anderson, Mary Ellen Anderson, Anzilia K. Anderson, Howard D. Armstrong, Donald E. Armstrong, James E. Armstrong, Michael L. Atkinson, Dwight C. Autry, Lila H. Autry, Charles E. Autry, James L. Autry, W. J. Avent, Effie H. Avery, Janie B. Ayers, George W. Bailey, Lough Massey Baker, Joseph K. Baker, Ophelia H. Baker, Shelby M. Baker, Rufus James Baker, Mary Harrell Baker, Johnny Preston Baker, William A. Baker, Clifford E. Ball, Naomi M. Ball, Katie Cook Barnes, Willie E. Barnes, Thomas Scott Barnes, Judith W. Basnight, Gerald Bass, Carolyn J. Batchelor, Frances L. Batts, Gerald C. Batts, Mary P. Batts, Madeline B. Beach, Carl Beacham, Jr., Linda C. Beaman, Jenette C. Bell, V. Allen Bender, III, John O. Benson, Peggy J. Biggs, Ronnie Bill, L.S. Blades, III, Essie L. Blalock, Curtis W. Bland, Wynona H. Blount, Mel Steven Bobbitt, Johnny D. Bordeaux, Ann L. Boyette, Jack H. Boyette, Geraldine E. Boyette, Mary B. Boykin, Marian E. Bracy, Joyce C. Bracy, Thelma Robbins Braddy, Janice C. Braddy, Claude Braddy, Jr., Steven P. Bradley, Jean T. Bradshaw, Edward R. Brady, Mary Ann Brame, Charles M. Bratcher, Josephine S. Bratcher, Linda G. Brewer, James Woodie Britt, Mary E. Britton, Audrey A. Brown, Henry W. Brown, William P. Brown, Graham T. Brown, Carol J. Brown, Janice Brown, Eddie R. Brown, Gordon D. Brunson, Marie W. Bucknam, Geneva E. Bullock, Mattie J. Bullock, Patricia W. Bunch, Tony A. Bunch, Carol S. Burchette, Alfred M. Waddell, Jr., Mary Frances Wagner, Carolyn R. Wagner, Shirley B. Wainwright, Jean M. Walden, Rosa A. Walker, Angela Walker, Charles W. Wall, Joyce F. Wallace, Charles G. Wallace, Randy W. Wallace, Edith A. Walston, Lorene P. Walters, George M. Walters, Jr., Janice C. Ward, John T. Ward, Myrtle W. Ward, Hassell Ray Wardsworth, Rebecca B. Warren, Ruby J. Waters, Martha R. Waters, Frances H. Watson, Evelyn G. Webb, Battle Brooks Webb, Earldean T. Webb, Ellie H. Webb, Joseph W. Weeks, Margaret Wethington, Walter Thomas Wheeler, Walter C. White, Henry M. White, Mary M. White, Kenneth L. White, Trudy J. White, Vivian M. White, Treacy Turner White, Louise M. Whitehurst, George F. Whitehurst, Nancy B. Whitehurst, Ellis Reid Whitford, Sr., Billy S. Wilder, Bonner Wilder, Gordon Earl Wilkins, Jr., Ann W. Wilkinson, Bradley Willaford, George E. Williams, Julia V. Williams, Connie L. Williams, Herscal P. Williams, Mary C. Williams, Roy K. Williams, Hazel C. Williams, Roger Bert Williams, Mollie L. Williamson, Margie E. Williamson, T. P. Williamson, Alice L. Williford, Jerry D. Williford, Ralph L. Williford, Jean Wilson, Howard C. Wilson, Jr., Ann D. Winborne, Sonya L. Winstead, Frances M. Winstead, Derwood L. Winstead, Marion Branch Winstead, Grady H. Winstead, Sr., William Boyd Wood, Thomas H. Woodard, Billy G. Woodard, John E. Woodlief, Alice B. Woodruff, Steven G. Woodward, Vernell H. Woolard, Darrell Woolard, David F. Woolsey, Earl D. Wooten, John T. Worrell, Lynwood R. Worrell, Jr., Lydia B. Wynne, Annie T. Wynne, Janet N. Wynne, Guy E. York, Ernest H. Young, David M. Young, James F. Burnette, Ethel A. Burns, Clayton O. Burriss, Jr., Diamond H. Butler, Franklin D. Butler, Dorothy G. Butler, Robert C. Byrd, Ruth M. Cagle, Bertha S. Campbell, Shirley G. Canady, Daniel H. Carlisle, Stanton R. Carnes, Milton R. Carpenter, Estate of, Betty M. Carr, Dolores P. Carraway, Linda K. Carroll, Lucille H. Carta, Carl Ray Carter, Melvin S. Carter, Bernard John Carter, Jr., Lois Ann Carver, Bobby B. Cashwell, Glenn M. Causway, John W. Cherry, Linda W. Chesson, Betty W. Chesson, Eileen L. Childers, Ann P. Chipps, Daisy A. Clark, Donald R. Clark, Donald E. Clark, Robert L. Clegg, Shirley W. Cleland, Cullen Cobb, Jr., Earl G. Coble, Josie D. Cofield, Annie M. Coggins, Colleen H. Coker, Naomi M. Coker, Alvin L. Coley, Linda C. Coley, Victoria C. Collins, Raymond A. Collins, Joyce L. Connor, Nancy D. Cook, Carl T. Cooley, William H. Cooley, Ann G. Cooper, Charles W. Cooper, Callie L. Cooper, Edward G. Corey, James H. Council, Dolley E. Cox, Walter L. Cratch, John W. Craver, Henry E. Creel, Arvey O. Crocker, Jr., Shelby A. Croom, Melvin D. Crumpler, Marshall W. Crumpler, Nancy R. Curtis, Harold B. Cutler, Jack E. Cutler, Vernon R. Dail, Ada F. Daniel, Terry F. Daniels, Ulyss Glenn Daughtridge, Belva J. Davenport, Shelby F. Davenport, Billy E. Davidson, Robert I. Davis, Selma W. Davis, Hinton Carlton Davis, Helen I. Davis, Lesly B. Davis, Vivian W. Davis, Jack D. Dawson, Betty W. Deal, Walter F. Deal, Janis S. Dempster, Betty Jean Dennie, Bobby C. Dennie, Marcelene D. Denny, Richard H. Denton, Grace J. Devane, Edward M. Dickens, Margaret S. Dildy, Charles T. Dorman, Paul D. Dorman, Gordon H. Doughtie, Lena W. Doughtie, Martha M. Douglas, Isabel Downing, Eugene F. Dozier, William P. Duckett, Jr., George F. Duke, Julia J. Duke, Lois W. Dunn, Bobby E. Dunn, Robert W. Duvall, Dolly O. Eastwood, Billy Y. Edgerton, Bobby Ray Edmondson, Amy T. Edwards, W. Thomas Edwards, Finley C. Edwards, Mary Eldridge, Mildred T. Elks, Eva Kaye G. Ellington, Lucille B. Ellis, Louis E. Ellis, Michael L. Ellis, Christine K. Ellis, William E. Elmore, Betty Elmore-Stancill, Selby A. Etheridge, Jr., Carolyn R. Evans, Kermit M. Evans, Tony W. Evans, Vonita H. Evans, Jeannette M. Ezzell, Jenell B. Ezzell, John D. Ezzelle, Mavis E. Faircloth, Olivia B. Farrell, Michael E. Ferrell, Preston L. Fields, Ruth F. Fisher, Charles W. Fisher, Leslie B. Fisher, Janie G. Fleming, Donna S. Fling, Dianne K. Flint, Bertha S. Floyd, Clarence G. Forbes, Marilyn B. Forbes, Martha S. Foster, Barbara Franks, William R. Frazier, Judy S. Freeman, I. Gerald Futrell, Elizabeth H. Gardner, Robert L. Garrett, Linda A. Garrett, Margie A. Garris, Deidrick H. Gaskill, Donald P. Gaskins, Linda H. Gaskins, Willie R. Gay, Herbert L. Gay, William A. Gilbert, Jerry S. Gore, Lillie B. Grady, Priscilla T. Granger, Jane T. Grantham, Hilda B. Gray, Grover L. Griffin, Alton C. Grissom, Rosalyn S. Guirkins, Charlie J. Gurganus, Van A. Gurkins, Susie P. Vick, Ronald Vick, Verchie A. Vick, Joann A. Vaughan, Jean Varnell, Henry H. Umphlet, Robert C. Tyndall, Jesse L. Turner, Shelby Jean Turnage, Geraldine H. Tucker, Daphne B. Tripp, Annie Robinson Trevathan, Henry T. Tolston, Clennis T. Tolston, Melody J. Thursby, Elizabeth J. Thornell, Gene R. Thompson, Ella W. Thompson, Carlton G. Thompson, Roy H. Thompson, Pearl N. Thompson, Donald L. Thomas, Garland V. Thomas, Mary L. Tharrington, Virginia Tew, Hubert D. Terry, Edmond R. Taylor, Curtis V. Taylor, Carol J. Taylor, Emmett L. Tatum, Jr., Grady Tart, Kenneth F. Tarleton, Kenneth H. Sykes, Rebecca R. Swinson, Cecil E. Swinson, Billy V. Sutton, Elizabeth V. Sumner, Mattie Bass Sumner, Dianne M. Summerlin, Bobby G. Suggs, Raymond O. Strum, Clayton Thomas Strickland, Linda P. Strickland, Owen W. Strickland, Patricia L. Strickland, Grady C. Strickland, Hazel Stox, Stanley M. Stone, Sr., James A. Stocks, Levy C. Stilley, Peggy A. Stewart, Floyd W. Stewart, Charles W. Stephens, Jr., Blanche R. Stell, Estate of, Donald G. Steele, James E. Stanley, Carlene Stanley, Brenda B. Hairr, Junie Mack Hairr, John O. Hall, Jimmy C. Hamilton, Betty F. Hamm, Joel F. Hancock, James E. Haney, Robert Alton Hanford, Frances H. Hardee, Linda P. Hardee, Loretta F. Harrell, Kenneth R. Harrell, Melvin R. Harrell, Linda H. Harrell, John Harrington, Doris C. Harris, Elizabeth R. Harris, Donnie P. Harris, Alice W. Harris, Jimmy L. Harris, Sr., Barbara J. Harrison, Norma H. Harrison, Jonathan F. Havens, Shelby B. Heath, David R. Hemby, Shirley G. Henderson, Bennie Herman, Jr., Hoytte Douglas Herrin, Wilton L. Herring, Lindsey W. Hewitt, Charles D. Hinson, Ruby M. Hinton, Bobby R. Hobgood, Lindbergh Holden, Julia H. Holland, Eugene R. Holland, Christine M. Holland, Nancy L. Hollis, Jane F. Holloman, Murrell T. Hollman, Roger L. Holt, Rebecca F. Hooker, Rosby R. Hopkins, William H. Hopkins, Willie C. Hopkins, Dennis Horchler, Jeannette Faye Horne, Carolyn M. Horton, Clarence S. Hough, Annette A. House, Chester B. Houston, Stacy J. Houston, Heywood B. Houtz, Maryland Y. Howard, Marvin Howell, Katherine H. Howse, Dorothy E. Hudson, S. J. Humienny, Sr., James S. Ikner, Estella Ipock, George L. Ipock, Lewis R. Irvin, Charles E. Isles, Patricia D. Jackson, Paul A. Jackson, Raymond L. Jackson, William Franklin Jackson, Johnnie E. James, William W. Jefferson, Joyce S. Jefferson, Donald S. Jenkins, James Kenneth Johnson, Marcus W. Johnson, Lillie M. Johnson, John Charles Johnson, Bobby D. Jolly, Leona A. Jones, Alice R. Jones, Aubrey D. Jones, Peter H. Jones, Shirley L. Jones, Willie J. Jones, John C. Jones, Norma C. Josey, Dolly J. Joyner, Dorothy B. Joyner, Doris L. Joyner, Wilbur Glenn Joyner, Nancy R. Justice, Charles J. Kearney, Martha H. Keen, W. E. Kelchner, Donald G. Kennedy, Walter L. Kennedy, J. J. Killebrew, Irma E. King, Thelma V. King, William B. King, Eleanor S. King, Lorraine E. Kirkwood, Bruce R. Kirkwood, Wesley G. Knott, Charles Ray Knowles, Miriam S. Kricko, Thelma W. Lafferty, Martha C. Lamm, William E. Lamm, Dennis R. Lane, Ernestine C. Langley, James D. Langley, Violet H. Lanier, William A. Larrimore, Frances W. Latham, Patricia B. Lee, Kenneth Lee, Milton E. Lee, Rosyln A. Lefevers, Sherrie B. Leggett, Billy M. Leggett, Patricia C. Letchworth, Leo N. Lewis, Sandra B. Lewis, Sybil Rowe Lewis, Brenda B. Lewis, Sylvia B. Lewis, Betty D. Lewis, Polly C. Lilley, Shelby M. Lilley, Norma Midyette Lindsey, Raymeta B. Stancil, William W. Stallings, John Harold Stallings, Margaret A. Stallings, Doris A. Stainback, James A. Spruill, James A. Speight, George R. Speight, Frank J. Sparks, Rachel O. Spann, Ronald D. Sondergard, Talmadge R. Snead, Martha J. Snead, Zelia S. Snead, Betty G. Smith, Linda Faye Smtih, Franklin D. Smith, Barbara S. Smith, Wilton A. Smtih, Willard G. Simpson, Leon H. Simpkins, Arthur D. Simoneau, Bryant Simmons, Jr., Maureen L. Simmons, Milford L. Simmons, Betty Gayle Simmons, Douglas E. Sibbett, Vickie A. Shivar, Gaynelle S. Shipp, Virgil B. Shaw, Rita T. Sexton, George T. Sessoms, Sr., Vicki Jean Seadore, Benjamin F. Scott, J. P. Scott, Melody G. Savage, Judy D. Satterwhite, Frederick L. Satterfield, Marilyn L. Sandlin, Hilda G. Saleeby, Dudley J. Rutledge, Ethel V. Ruffin-Collier, Clifton E. Ruffin, Johnnie Mack Ruffin, Betty E. Ruffin, Linda Ann Rose, William A. Rouse, Naomi M. Roundtree, W. H. Ross, Rosemary V. Romanus, Mary D. Roller, Betty G. Rogers, Margie S. Rogers, Maxine R. Rogers, Johnathan L. Robeson, Jr., Elinor S. Robeson, Albert F. Roach, Janie S. Ridgeway, W. S. Richardson, Bessie M. Reveal, Shirley P. Respass, Sally C. Register, Rebecca R. Raynor, Effie L. Roper, Margie T. Raines, Gene D. Rackley, Francis Dalton Rackley, Barbara B. Rackley, Sidney H. Purvis, Grace N. Proctor, Shelby F. Pridgen, Joseph Earl Price, Retha A. Price, Bobby F. Price, Joyce P. Powers, Catherine R. Powers, Iris E. Powell, Larry Powell, Margie L. Pope, Harold D. Pope, Mary B. Pope, Marshall B. Pope, Kenneth N. Pollock, Charles G. Pittman, Alice R. Pitt, Brenda S. Pilgreen, Faye E. Phykitt, Violet W. Phillips, Albert Ray Phelps, Linda P. Perry, Robert L. Perry, Theodore B. Perritt, David B. Pepper, Lucille Peele, Ethel J. Peedin, Luther D. Pearsall, Sr., Jewell H. Pearsall, Willis R. Peaden, Doris J. Patterson, Bobby F. Parrish, Albert B. Parker, Allen R. Parker, Lynwood V. Page, Charles E. Page, Jimmy L. Packard, Joyce E. Pace, George C. Pace, Joyce Y. Owens, Charles G. Overby, Barbara B. Overby, Evelyn C. Overby, Michael D. Outlaw, Geraldine Little, B. G. Littleton, Gerald T. Lockamy, Clara M. Long, Alice D. Long, Betty B. Long, Elsie O. Long, Rachel G. Lovick, Terry T. Lucas, Faye M. Lucas, Joyce C. Mahan, George P. Maier, Donald H. Mallard, Randall G. Mallard, Shirley B. Malpass, Mamie R. Manning, Lucy O. Mantas, Joyce A. Marshburn, Joe E. Martin, Clarence L. Mason, Helen C. Massey, Ruth H. Matthews, Rose D. Matthews, Kenneth S. May, John T. May, Mary H. Maynard, James P. Mayo, Mickey R. McAdams, Naomi B. McBride, Roy E. McCarter, William Troy McCarter, David L. McCaskill, Mae Vonne McClure, Alice R. McCorquodale, Clifford C. McCullough, Donna H. McCullough, Roderick A. McGlohon, Nellie O. McLamb, Daniel B. McLamb, Laudie Colon McLaurin, Eunice Stephens McLaurin, Hilda A. McLawhorn, Weldon E. McLawhorn, Neal C. McLeod, Jr., Rachel C. McManus, Rodney M. Medlin, William Ann Meeks, Margaret Ann Meeks, Linda L. Meeks, Ennis W. Mercer, Carlton V. Metts, Jeanette Y. Miller, Mary M. Miller, Leon Gene Miller, Faye P. Abbott, Bobby L. Lamm, James Truitt Miller, Nancy J. Moseley, Hazel M. Nixo, Jacqueline L. O'Neal, Darling David Mills, Virginia R. Minton, Ethel D. Mitchel, Dorothy R. Moore, George Moore, Jr., James H. Moore, Jane T. Moore, Jesse C. Moore, John Thomas Moore, Lemuel K. Moore, Marland G. Moore, Barbara P. Mooring, William C. Morris, Evelyn F. Morrow, Patricia B. Morrow, Norman Carlton Moseley, Gloria P. Mosley, Ernest Mozingo, Emma Frances Nanney, Mary D. Narron, Charlie G. Neal, Claude T. Neal, Dianne S. Neal, Eleanor Nelms, Lonnie R. Nelms, June W. Newberry, Evelyn W. Nicholson, Janie P. Nicholson, Ramona S. Norman, Kay W. Norville, Robert L. Norville, Sr., Gregory Nunnery, Joseph W. Odom, Grace O'Geary, Braxton S. Oliver, Herbert W. Oliver, Thomas M. Oliver, Willie E. Godwin, Kathy Beach Jones, Thomas E. Littleton, Plaintiffs: Diane A. Nygaard, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Nygaard Law Firm, Leawood, KS; Mary C. O'Connell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Douthit, Frets, Rouse, Gentile & Rhodes, LLC - Leawood, Leawood, KS.

For Verona W. Bass, Noah Alfred Beamon, Linda L. Flythe, Peggy S. Nelson, Kerry W. Carawan, Larry T. Ellis, Ralph A. Johnson, John W. Overton, Wanda W. Shipley, Gerald T. Stallings, Jennings B. Teal, Sr., Plaintiffs: Diane A. Nygaard, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Nygaard Law Firm, Leawood, KS.

For Clayton O. Burris, Jr., Plaintiff: Adele Rapport, Richard T. Seymour, PRO HAC VICE, Law Office of Richard T. Seymour, PLLC, Washington, DC; Alan M. Sandals, Scott Michael Lempert, PRO HAC VICE, Sandals & Associates, P.C., Philadelphia, PA; Diane A. Nygaard, The Nygaard Law Firm, Leawood, KS; Mary C. O'Connell, Douthit, Frets, Rouse, Gentile & Rhodes, LLC - Leawood, Leawood, KS; Stewart W. Fisher, PRO HAC VICE, Glenn, Mills & Fisher, PA, Durham, NC.

For Richard B. Weatherington, Plaintiff: Diane A. Nygaard, The Nygaard Law Firm, Leawood, KS; Mary C. O'Connell, Douthit, Frets, Rouse, Gentile & Rhodes, LLC - Leawood, Leawood, KS.

D. Michelle Morlock, deceased Shelby Osborne, Jr., Plaintiff, Pro se.

Henry John Roehr, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Jack Bailey, deceased John Bailey, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Veronica P. Crawley, deceased Joanne C. Phillips, Pro se.

Eunice McNeal, deceased George McNeal, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Amy Stettler, deceased Catherine V. Stettler, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Shirley G. Hammock, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Eleanor E. Huston, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Vena Rogers, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Eleanor Wildhabe-Daly, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Darlynn Muhlbach, deceased Audrey Augusta Broxson, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Annette E. Wantz, deceased Thomas E. Wantz, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Roger Dennis Hutchison, deceased Paula Marie Hutchison, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Carolyn Kuklok, deceased Richard Schallhorn, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Diane Phillips, deceased Hobert Phillips, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Hollis Phillips, deceased Hobert Phillips, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Mary Sharp Miller, deceased Lowell Sharp, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Leo Colabauth, deceased George R. Colabauth, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Valerie Kern, deceased Patricia Maxwell, Plaintiff, Pro se.

For Embarq Retiree Medical Plan, Sprint Nextel Corporation, Embarq Mid-Atlantic Management Services Company, formerly known as Sprint Mid-Atlantic Telecom, Inc., Sprint Retiree Medical Plan, Group Health Plan for Certain Retirees and Employees of Sprint Corporation, Sprint Welfare Benefit Plan for Retirees and Non-Flexcare Participants, Sprint Group Life and Long-Term Disability Plans, Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company, LLC, formerly known as Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company, Group Life, Accidental Death and Dismemberment and Dependent Life Plan for Employees of Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company, Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association Sickness Death Benefit Plan, Randall T. Parker, as Plan Administrator for all of the Employee Welfare benefit Plans of Embarq Corporation and Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company, LLC, Defendants: Brian K. O'Bleness, Mark D. Hinderks, Scott C. Hecht, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP - Walnut, Kansas City, MO; Christopher J. Leopold, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP - Walnut, Kansas City, MO; James P. Walsh, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP - NJ, Princeton, NJ; Joseph J. Costello, Michael L. Banks, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP - Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA; Christopher J. Koenigs, Michael B. Carroll, PRO HAC VICE, Sherman & Howard LLC, Denver, CO.

For Embarq Corporation, Employee Benefits Committee of Embarq Corporation as Plan Administrator of the Embarq Retiree Medical Plan, Defendants: Brian K. O'Bleness, Scott C. Hecht, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP - Walnut, Kansas City, MO; Christopher J. Leopold, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP - Walnut, Kansas City, MO; Christopher J. Koenigs, Michael B. Carroll, PRO HAC VICE, Sherman & Howard LLC, Denver, CO.

ERIC F. MELGREN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

OPINION

Page 1095

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Contractual Vesting Claims Under ERISA

A. The Parties

1. Named Plaintiffs

a. Carolina Telephone & Telegraph Company

b. United Telephone Companies

c. Sprint

2. Defendants

3. Class Members

B. Factual Background

C. Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment

on Plaintiffs' Contractual Vesting Claims (Docs 323, 332)

1. Summary Judgment Legal Standard

2. ERISA Contractual Vesting Law

3. Evidentiary Issues

a. Magistrate Judge O'Hara's Sanction Order

b. Course of Performance Evidence

c. Defendants' Motion to Exclude the Report

and Testimony of Prof Gail Stygall (Doc 321)

4. The SPDs

a. The First Group of SPDs (1 through 6, 18 and

24 through 32)

1. Language in the SPDs

(a) Language in SPDs 1 through 4

(b) Language in SPD 18

(c) Language in SPDs 5 and 6

(d) Language in SPDs 24 through 27

and 29 through 31

(e) Language in SPDs 28 and 32

2. Discussion of the SPDs

b. The Second Group of SPDs (7 through 9)

1. Language in these SPDs

2. Discussion of SPDs 7, 8, and 9

(a) The SPDs do not contain

affirmative, lifetime language

(b) The SPDs contain termination

provisions

3. Discussion of Named Plaintiff Britt's Claim

(SPD 7 and the 1984 CBA)

c. The Third Group of SPDs (10 through 12 and 19)

1. Language in these SPDs

2. Discussion of these SPDs

(a) The SPDs do not contain

affirmative, lifetime language

(b) The SPDs contain a ROR clause

and termination provisions

d. The Fourth Group of SPDs (13 through 15 and

20 through 23)

1. Language in these SPDs

2. Discussion of these SPDs

(a) The SPDs do not contain

affirmative, lifetime language

(b) The SPDs contain a ROR clause

and termination provisions

e. Named Plaintiff Clark's Claim (SPDs 16 and

17 and the 1974 CBA)

1. Language in these SPDs and language

in the CBA

2. Discussion

f. Conclusion

D. Defendants' Motion to Decertify the Class Action (Doc. 285)

II. Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Under ERISA

A. Factual Background

B. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Breach of

Fiduciary Duty Claim (Doc. 338)

1. ERISA Fiduciary Law

2. Discussion

III. Age Discrimination Claims

A. The Parties

1. Plaintiffs and the Collective Class

2. Defendants

B. Factual Background

C. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs'

Age Discrimination Claims (Doc. 329)

1. Plaintiffs Cannot Establish a Prima Facie Case

2. Defendants Demonstrate That They Made Their

Decision on Reasonable Factors Other Than Age

D. Defendants' Motion to Decertify Action (Doc. 287),

Defendants' Motions to Exclude Terry Long and David

Crawford Testimony (Docs. 325, 327), Plaintiffs' Motion

for Advisory Jury (Doc. 333)

E. Plaintiffs' Request for Oral Argument on Defendants'

Motions for Summary Judgment (Doc. 392)

Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves, a certified class, and a certified collective class, bring suit alleging that Defendants' modification and elimination of retirees' medical, prescription drug, and life insurance benefits, violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (" ERISA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (" ADEA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and Ohio, Oregon, and Tennessee's anti-discrimination statutes.

In Plaintiffs' first claim, pursuant to ERISA section 502(a)(1)(B),[1] seventeen named Plaintiffs and an approximate 15,000 member class assert that the summary plan descriptions (SPDs) in effect when they retired, as well as other written documents and oral representations, give them a contractual right to vested health, prescription drug, and life insurance benefits. In Plaintiffs' third claim, they seek declaratory relief that they are entitled to the reinstatement of their benefits in the form in which they received them at retirement. These two claims overlap and are Plaintiffs' contractual vesting claims.

In Plaintiffs' second claim, pursuant to ERISA section 502(a)(3),[2] the seventeen named Plaintiffs allege that Defendants breached their fiduciary duty by misrepresenting the terms of the plans by affirmatively telling Plaintiffs, through SPDs, written communications, and oral statements, that their medical and life insurance benefits were lifetime benefits. Plaintiffs also contend that Defendants failed to inform them that their benefits could change.

In Plaintiffs' fourth claim, the seventeen named Plaintiffs, an additional 750 named individuals,[3] and an approximate collective class of 8,000 members, contend that Defendants violated the ADEA when they reduced or eliminated Plaintiffs' life insurance benefits because it had a disparate impact upon older retirees. Plaintiffs' fifth, sixth, and seventh claims are identical to the ADEA discrimination claim except that they are brought under Ohio's, Oregon's, and Tennessee's age discrimination laws.

There are eleven pending motions before this Court. The Court will address these motions in three different sections and will set forth the applicable parties, facts, and law in each respective section.[4] In the first part of the Order, the Court will address Plaintiffs' contractual vesting claims under ERISA. This section includes: Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on the Named Plaintiffs' Contractual Vesting Claims (Doc. 323), Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Selected Class Members' Contractual Vesting Claims (Doc. 332), Defendants' Motion to Exclude Gail Stygall Expert Testimony (Doc. 321), and Defendants' Motion to Decertify Class Action (Doc. 285).

In the second part of the Order, the Court will address the seventeen named Plaintiffs' breach of fiduciary duty claim under ERISA. This section includes Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim (Doc. 338).

In the third part of the Order, the Court will address Plaintiffs' age discrimination claims. This section includes: Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' Age Discrimination Claims (Doc. 329), Defendants' Motion to Decertify Collective Action (Doc. 287), Defendants' Motion to Exclude the Report and Testimony of Terry Long (Doc. 325), Defendants' Motion to Exclude the Report and Testimony of David L. Crawford (Doc. 327), Plaintiffs' Motion for Advisory Jury (Doc. 333), and Plaintiffs' Motion for Hearing on Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (Doc. 392).

I. Contractual Vesting Claims under ERISA

In Plaintiffs' first and third claims (the contractual vesting claims), they allege that Defendants' reduction or elimination of their prescription drug, medical, and life insurance benefits violated ERISA because those benefits were vested. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that these benefits are vested under section 502(a)(1)(B) of ERISA and a restoration of those benefits.[5]

A. The Parties

1. Named Plaintiffs

There are seventeen named Plaintiffs who are retired, long-term management and unionized employees of several regional and local telephone operating companies. All of these companies eventually became wholly-owned subsidiaries of Defendant Embarq Corporation upon its spin-off from Defendant Sprint Nextel Corporation in May 2006. As retired employees, Plaintiffs and their eligible spouses and dependents were participants in various ERISA-governed plans.

a. Carolina Telephone & Telegraph Company (" CT& T" ) Plaintiffs

Eleven named Plaintiffs retired from CT& T. Plaintiff Donald Clark retired from CT& T in August 1976. Plaintiffs James Britt and Laudie McLaurin retired from CT& T in approximately June 1985 and December 1988. Plaintiffs Willie Dorman and Calvin Joyner retired from CT& T in March 1994. Plaintiffs William Fulghum and William Daniel retired from CT& T in September 1996 and June 1999, respectively. Plaintiffs John Hollingsworth, Betsy Bullock, and William Games retired from CT& T in December 2001. Plaintiff Sue Barnes retired from CT& T in March 2003.

b. United Telephone Companies' Plaintiffs

Five named Plaintiffs retired from United telephone companies. Plaintiff Robert King retired from United Telephone Company of Florida (" UTC-Florida" ) in September 1993. Plaintiffs Betty and Kenneth Carpenter retired from United Telephone Company of Ohio (" UTC-Ohio" ) in November 1997 and January 1998. Plaintiff Carl Somdahl retired from United Telephone Company of the Northwest (" UTC-NW" ) in January 1999. Plaintiff Wanda Shipley retired from United Inter-Mountain Telephone Company (" Inter-Mountain" ) in June 1999.

c. Sprint Plaintiff

One Plaintiff, Timothy Dillon, retired from Sprint North Supply Company in approximately December 2002.[6]

2. Defendants

There are several companies that are named as Defendants. These include Defendant Sprint, formerly known as United Telecommunications, Inc. and Sprint Corporation; Defendant Embarq Corporation (" Embarq" ); Defendant Embarq Mid-Atlantic Management Services Company, formerly known as Sprint Mid-Atlantic Telecom, Inc.; and Defendant CT& T, formerly a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sprint.

Numerous welfare benefit plans are named as Defendants. These include: Embarq Retiree Medical Plan, Sprint Retiree Medical Plan, Group Health Plan for Certain Retirees and Employees of Sprint Corporation, Sprint Welfare Benefit Plant for Retirees and Non-Flexcare Participants, Sprint Group and Long Term Disability Plans, Group Life Accidental Death and Dismemberment and Dependent Life Plan for Employees of Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company, and Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association Sickness Death Benefit Plan (" VEBA" ) (collectively, " the Plans" ).

There are two additional defendants. Defendant Employee Benefits Committee of Embarq Corporation (" the Committee" ) is the administrator of the Plans sponsored by Embarq and CT& T. Defendant Randall T. Parker served as Embarq's Director of Benefits between August 2005 and March 2010 and as Sprint's Director - Benefits Strategy and Sprint Benefits Brand Management between 1995 and August 2005.

3. Class Members

In early 2011, the Court certified a class with respect to the two contractual vesting claims. The class definition as set forth in the class notice is as follows:

The certified ERISA class includes retired employees and their eligible dependents who retired before January 1, 2008 from Embarq or a business that became part of Embarq and who were participating in any of the retiree medical, prescription drug and life insurance benefit plans of Sprint Nextel Corporation and Embarq Corporation.[7]

There is also sub-class which includes individuals who were participants in CT& T's Voluntary Employee Benefits Association (" VEBA" ) plan. This sub-class is known as the " VEBA sub-class." There are approximately 15,000 ERISA class members.

B. Factual Background

In November 2005, Sprint announced that the prescription drug benefits for participants and beneficiaries who were eligible for Medicare Part D coverage would be modified such that each participant and beneficiary would receive $41.67 a month, or $500 a year, effective January 1, 2006.

On July 26, 2007, Embarq announced that (1) company-sponsored medical coverage and the prescription drug subsidy provided to Medicare-eligible retirees and Medicare-eligible dependents of retirees would be eliminated effective January 1, 2008; (2) basic life insurance coverage would be eliminated for retirees who were participants in the CT& T VEBA effective September 1, 2007; and (3) basic life insurance coverage would be capped at $10,000 for all other retirees effective January 1, 2008.

In late December 2007, Plaintiffs brought suit over the reduction and elimination of these benefits.

C. Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' Contractual Vesting Claims (Docs. 323, 332)

In this case, the summary plan descriptions (" SPDs" ) explain Plaintiffs' and class members' medical and life insurance benefits. Some of the SPDs address medical benefits,[8] some of the SPDs pertain to life insurance benefits,[9] and several of the SPDs address both medical and life insurance benefits in the same document.[10] Plaintiffs rely upon language in these SPDs that their medical and life insurance benefits are vested lifetime benefits.

Defendants bring two summary judgment motions on Plaintiffs' and class members' contractual vesting claims. Defendants' first motion addresses the seventeen named Plaintiffs. There are seventeen SPDs at issue with respect to these Plaintiffs' contractual vesting claims. These include SPDs 1 through 17. Defendants' second summary judgment motion addresses certain class members that either fall under the same SPDs as the named Plaintiffs or fall under SPDs that contain similar language. There are fifteen SPDs at issue in Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on selected class members' contractual vesting claims. These include SPDs 18 through 32. Defendants group these thirty-two SPDs into five different groups based on the similarity of language contained within those SPDs. The Court will address each group of SPDs.

1. Summary Judgment Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party demonstrates that " there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that it is " entitled to judgment as a matter of law." [11] The court must view the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.[12] The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.[13] To meet this standard, the moving party need not disprove the nonmoving party's claim; rather, the movant must simply point out the lack of evidence on an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim.[14]

If the moving party carries its initial burden, the party opposing summary judgment cannot rest on the pleadings but must bring forth " specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." [15] " To accomplish this, the facts must be identified by reference to affidavits, deposition transcripts, or specific exhibits incorporated therein." [16] Conclusory allegations alone cannot defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment.[17]

2. ERISA Contractual Vesting Law

There are two types of employment benefits under ERISA: welfare benefits and pension benefits.[18] In this case, these benefits are welfare benefits.[19] Welfare benefit plans do not have the same requirements as pension benefit plans.[20] That is, ERISA does not establish minimum participation, vesting, or funding requirements for welfare benefit plans.[21] Thus, " [e]mployers or other plan sponsors are generally free under ERISA, for any reason at any time, to adopt, modify, or terminate welfare benefit plans." [22] The exception to this rule is if an employer or other plan sponsor contractually agrees to grant vested benefits.[23] An employer or plan sponsor " who changes the vested benefits granted in a welfare plan may be liable to a beneficiary under the plan." [24]

Plaintiffs bear the burden of showing an agreement or other demonstration of employer intent to vest welfare benefits.[25] " Contractual vesting of a welfare benefit is an extra-ERISA commitment that must be stated in clear and express language. . . . [It] is a narrow doctrine." [26] To determine whether a welfare benefit plan provides for vested benefits, the Court applies general principles of contract construction by looking at the contract language and considering the parties' intent.[27] Only if the language is ambiguous does the Court consider extrinsic evidence.[28] Otherwise, the Court construes the documents as a matter of law.[29]

Title 29 U.S.C., section 1022(b) requires that an SPD contain information about " circumstances which may result in disqualification, ineligibility, or denial or loss of benefits." Section 1022(a) requires that the SPD be " written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant," and it must be " sufficiently accurate and comprehensive to reasonably apprise such participants and beneficiaries of their rights and obligations under the plan."

An SPD is considered part of the plan documents required by ERISA. If the clause to be construed does not itself determine the plan sponsor's intent, we read the language of the SPD as a whole. Because the SPD best reflects the expectations of the parties to the plan, the terms of the SPD control the terms of the plan itself.[30]

In this case, to determine the dispositive issue of whether Defendants intended to confer vested medical and life insurance benefits upon Plaintiffs, the Court must analyze provisions of the SPDs. In analyzing these provisions, the Court must first determine whether they are ambiguous. If they are unambiguous, the Court construes them as a matter of law.

3. Evidentiary Issues

Before discussing the language of these SPDs, the Court must address several evidentiary issues.

a. Magistrate Judge O'Hara's Sanction Order

In this case, the parties engaged in lengthy discovery, and there were numerous discovery disputes over the SPDs, collective bargaining agreements, and plan documents. One of the issues involved which party had the responsibility of identifying the SPDs applicable to each class member. On February 24, 2012, Magistrate Judge O'Hara found that Plaintiffs had failed to comply with a previous order requiring Plaintiffs to identify by group the retirees to which Plaintiffs' alleged plan documents applied. Because of Plaintiffs' failure to comply with his previous order, Judge O'Hara imposed a sanction precluding Plaintiffs from taking a position in the litigation inconsistent with Defendants' document-to-class-member mapping.[31] After Plaintiffs sought reconsideration of that order, Judge O'Hara upheld most of it, but clarified that his order did not apply to the seventeen named Plaintiffs because Plaintiffs had previously identified documents with respect to those named Plaintiffs.[32] On May 24, 2012, this Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion to Review Magistrate Judge's February 24, 2012 and March 27, 2012 Orders and upheld the sanction.[33] Thus, Plaintiffs cannot now take a position inconsistent with Defendants' identification of the SPDs applicable to the selected class members.

b. Course of Performance Evidence

Plaintiffs argue that " course of performance" evidence--consisting of alleged oral statements from company representatives to Plaintiffs, internal company documents, and written checklists and letters provided to Plaintiffs--demonstrates Defendants' intent to provide lifetime benefits. All of this " course of performance" evidence is extrinsic evidence. Only if the plan language is ambiguous does the Court need to consider this evidence.[34] For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that the language in the SPDs is unambiguous. Thus, the Court will not consider the extrinsic evidence in relation to Plaintiffs' contractual vesting claim.[35]

c. Defendants' Motion to Exclude the Report and Testimony of Professor Gail Stygall(Doc. 321)

Plaintiffs also attempt to rely upon expert testimony from Gail Stygall, Ph.D., a professor of English and Linguistics, in which she opines, in part, that due to the language of the SPDs, they are ambiguous and " reasonably susceptible to the reader's conclusion that lifetime benefits have been promised." [36] Defendants filed a Motion to Exclude the Report and Testimony of Professor Gail Stygall. The determination of whether language in a contract is ambiguous is a question of law.[37] As explained below, there are numerous court decisions regarding contractual vesting claims. In every one of these decisions, the court makes the determination as to whether or not the language in the contract is ambiguous--the court does not rely on an expert's opinion for this conclusion.

In this case, because the Court must determine whether the contractual language is ambiguous as a matter of law, Professor Stygall's opinion is irrelevant and unnecessary to the Court's determination, and the Court will not consider her opinion. Accordingly, the Court grants Defendants' Motion to Exclude the Report and Testimony.

4. The SPDs

As noted above, Defendants group thirty-two SPDs into five different groups based on the similarity of language contained within those SPDs. The first group of SPDs contains at least one reservation of rights (" ROR" ) clause providing that the company may amend or terminate the plan at any time. This first group of SPDs also contains a provision that coverage will end upon death. The second group of SPDs does not contain an express ROR. Nor does it contain such provisions that coverage will end upon death. The third and fourth groups of SPDs contain no express language indicating that benefits are vested and contain a reservation of rights clause premised on business necessity. The final group contains only two SPDs, and they are only applicable to named Plaintiff Clark. The Court will address each group of SPDs in turn.

a. The First Group of SPDs (1 through 6, 18, and 24 through 32)

This first group of sixteen SPDs are substantially similar in that they contain at least one ROR stating that the company reserves the right to amend or terminate the plan at any time. They also contain the statement that the retirees' benefit coverage ends upon the retirees' death. These SPDs include 1 through 6, 18, and 24 through 32.

Thirteen named Plaintiffs base their claims for medical benefits on SPDs 1 through 6.[38] An additional 4,513 class members retired while SPDs 1 through 6 were in effect. SPD 18 is substantially similar to SPDs 1 through 4, and SPDs 24 through 32 are substantially similar to SPDs 5 and 6. A total of 6,108 selected ...


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