Y-12 retirees lawsuit moving forward

y12signA federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit that was filed last year on behalf of Y-12 retirees, who claimed that Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at the nuclear weapons plant — misled employees and failed to live up to promises made by CNS and previous contractors about enduring health care benefits for retirees.

The lawsuit was filed last summer in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on behalf of retirees Betty Hatmaker and Charlene Edwards. CNS later filed a motion to have the suit dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan last week issued a memorandum opinion and order that granted a part of the defendant’s motion to dismiss but refused to dismiss the lawsuit entirely.

The legal issues deal, in part, with whether promises of lifetime benefits constitute a “breach of fiduciary duty” if those benefits later change.

While Varlan agreed to dismiss one of the legal avenues for possible recovery of benefits or compensation, he wrote: “To the extent that plaintiffs are alleging breach of fiduciary duty claims based on the ‘serious consideration’ theory, the Court will not, at this stage, preclude plaintiffs from seeking relief under this theory.”

The ruling keeps the lawsuit alive and apparently paves the way for discovery of information and documents pertaining to the case. No trial date has been set.

Greg Coleman, the attorney representing the retirees, said he was pleased with the judge’s opinion and order. “We understand this is the initial stage, and we’ve got work to do moving forward,” Coleman said.

CNS declined comment. Spokeswoman Ellen Boatner said, “CNS does not discuss active litigation. Therefore, we will not be making any comments at this time.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.