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Case Name Engers v. AT&T EE-NJ-0116
Docket / Court 98-CV-3660 (SRC) ( D.N.J. )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
AT&T changed its pension plan in November 1997, which allegedly resulted in younger employees receiving more benefits than older employees previously had, while the pension benefits for older employees were reduced. On August 5, 1998, the plaintiff filed this class-action lawsuit in the District ... read more >
AT&T changed its pension plan in November 1997, which allegedly resulted in younger employees receiving more benefits than older employees previously had, while the pension benefits for older employees were reduced. On August 5, 1998, the plaintiff filed this class-action lawsuit in the District Court of New Jersey bringing 17 claims for relief alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), ERISA, and state law. The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the previous pension plan to be used. The plaintiffs also sought money damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees. The putative class-action suit proposed a class of "management employees of AT&T who were participants in the AT&T Management Pension Plan as of 12/31/1996." The case was assigned to Judge Nicholas Politan, and the plaintiffs were represented by private counsel.

The defendants moved to dismiss some of the claims. In an opinion issued on April 23, 1999, Judge Politan dismissed some of the plaintiffs claims. The ERISA claims were dismissed because the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as required by the statute. Other state-law claims were dismissed because they were preempted by ERISA's framework.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on June 7, 1999, alleging nine claims involving the ADEA, ERISA, and other fiduciary duty claims. The defendants again moved for partial dismissal of claims on October 1. On June 19, 2000, Judge Politan granted the motion for the ADEA claims, but denied it for the other claims.

After the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint, Judge Politan certified the class for the ERISA claims only on June 7, 2001. The plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint on November 29, 2001.

After the case was reassigned to Judge William G. Bassler, the defendants filed another motion to dismiss. In an order issued on October 17, 2002, Judge Bassler dismissed multiple ERISA claims included in the third amended complaint. 2002 WL 32159586. Based on the statutory text of ERISA, Judge Bassler determined that AT&T's revised pension plan complied with the law. After this order, the plaintiffs had five remaining claims: three based on ERISA violations, a breach of fiduciary duty claim, and a claim alleging a misleading description of the pension plan.

The case was then reassigned to Judge Jose Linares. After both the plaintiffs and the defendants moved for summary judgment in October 2004, the plaintiffs filed a fourth amended complaint on November 23, 2004. The defendants subsequently moved to dismiss the fourth amended complaint, which the court granted on March 31, 2006 with regards to two more ERISA claims. 428 F. Supp. 2d 213. The plaintiffs moved for reconsideration of this opinion, but Judge Linares denied the motion. 2006 WL 3359722.

The parties engaged in numerous discovery battles while the plaintiffs fought to keep their claims alive.

In July 2006, the case was reassigned to Judge Stanley Chesler. Judge Chesler granted the plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration, reinstating two ADEA claims. 2006 WL 3626945. Subsequently, Judge Chesler's denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, and also denied the defendants motion for judgment on the pleadings. 2007 WL 14585.

With their ADEA claims back in play, the plaintiffs moved to certify an ADEA class. The plaintiffs proposed a class of former or current AT&T management employees who were age 40 or over on November 19, 2001 when their employment with AT&T ended and participated in the Management Pension Plan after the change occurred.

The court stayed the class certification question while it decided the defendants motion to dismiss the two reinstated ADEA claims. On March 29, 2007, Judge Chesler denied the defendants' motion. 2007 WL 958472. Two months later, the plaintiffs' proposed class was approved. 2007 WL 1557163.

The plaintiffs supplemented their fourth amended complaint by seeking to reinstate two ERISA claims that had been dismissed earlier in the litigation. Subsequently, the defendants moved for summary judgment on all remaining claims. On June 7, 2010, Judge Chesler granted the motion. 2010 WL 2326211. This order resulted in a final judgment on all remaining claims.

The plaintiffs appealed the judgment to the Third Circuit. On June 22, 2011, the Third Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. 2011 WL 2507089. This opinion ended the case after more than ten years of litigation. The case is now closed.

Justin Hill - 01/18/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-area
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. ยงยง 621 et seq.
Defendant(s) AT&T Corporation
Plaintiff Description Former or current AT&T management employees over age 40 who participated in the AT&T Management Pension Plan on December 31, 1996 and on or after the January 1, 1998 date.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 08/05/1998
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D.N.J.
06/22/2011
2:98-cv-03660
EE-NJ-0116-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: Westlaw
General Documents
D.N.J.
08/05/1998
Civil Action and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 1]
EE-NJ-0116-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.N.J.
04/23/1999
Letter Opinion [ECF# 23] (1999 WL 334751)
EE-NJ-0116-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.N.J.
06/07/2001
Order [ECF# 79]
EE-NJ-0116-0019.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.N.J.
11/29/2001
Third Amended Class Action Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 104]
EE-NJ-0116-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.N.J.
10/17/2002
Opinion [ECF# 141] (2002 WL 32159586)
EE-NJ-0116-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D.N.J.
11/23/2004
Fourth Amended Class Action Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 232]
EE-NJ-0116-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.N.J.
03/31/2006
Opinion [ECF# 263] (428 F.Supp.2d 213)
EE-NJ-0116-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
D.N.J.
11/20/2006
Opinion [ECF# 289] (2006 WL 3359722)
EE-NJ-0116-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D.N.J.
12/12/2006
Opinion [ECF# 296] (2006 WL 3626945)
EE-NJ-0116-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D.N.J.
01/03/2007
Opinion [ECF# 299] (2007 WL 14585)
EE-NJ-0116-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D.N.J.
01/03/2007
Order [ECF# 300] (2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 47)
EE-NJ-0116-0004.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
D.N.J.
05/24/2007
Opinion [ECF# 335] (2007 WL 1557163)
EE-NJ-0116-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D.N.J.
05/24/2007
Order [ECF# 336]
EE-NJ-0116-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.N.J.
10/17/2007
Fourth Amended Complaint [ECF# 355]
EE-NJ-0116-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.N.J.
06/07/2010
Opinion [ECF# 469] (2010 WL 2326211)
EE-NJ-0116-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
06/22/2011
Opinion (466 Fed.Appx. 75)
EE-NJ-0116-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
show all people docs
Judges Barry, Maryanne Trump (D.N.J., Third Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018
Bassler, William G. (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0011
Cecchi, Claire Claudia (D.N.J.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-9000
Chagares, Michael A. (Third Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018
Chesler, Stanley R. (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0003 | EE-NJ-0116-0004 | EE-NJ-0116-0014 | EE-NJ-0116-0015 | EE-NJ-0116-0016 | EE-NJ-0116-0017 | EE-NJ-0116-9000
Linares, Jose L. (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0012 | EE-NJ-0116-0013
Politan, Nicholas H. (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0008 | EE-NJ-0116-0019
Roth, Jane Richards (D. Del., Third Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018
Plaintiff's Lawyers Binetti, Maureen (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018 | EE-NJ-0116-9000
Bruce, Stephen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0001 | EE-NJ-0116-0009 | EE-NJ-0116-0010 | EE-NJ-0116-0018
Deutsch, Neil (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-9000
Nirenberg, Jonathan I. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0001 | EE-NJ-0116-0009 | EE-NJ-0116-0010 | EE-NJ-0116-0018 | EE-NJ-0116-9000
Pauk, Edgar (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0001 | EE-NJ-0116-0009 | EE-NJ-0116-0010 | EE-NJ-0116-0018
Pienta, Allison C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018
Smit, Gerald (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0007 | EE-NJ-0116-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carpenter, David William (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018
Mills, Christopher H. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-9000
Robinson, Patricia S (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018 | EE-NJ-0116-9000
Rottenborn, Laura D (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018
Tone, Jeffrey R (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0116-0018

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