TORONTO – Rochon Genova LLP will be appearing at the Canadian Nortel settlement approval hearing, scheduled for March 3, 2010, on behalf of a number of former Nortel employees opposed to the terms of the settlement agreement.
A settlement agreement between Nortel and former Canadian employees was reached on February 8, 2010. This agreement covers thousands of former employees and pensioners, including over 400 people receiving long term disability (LTD) benefits. Disability income, medical, dental, and life benefits for these former employees were to end on March 31. The settlement agreement provides for their continuation until the end of 2010, however, in exchange the LTD employees are being asked to give up rights to bring action against various individuals and entities.
An adjournment of the March 3 hearing will be sought on the basis that Nortel disability employees were not provided with sufficient time to respond to the settlement, only receiving notice of it on February 16, 2010. Employees were therefore given a mere two weeks to review complex documentation and to make an informed decision as to whether or not to oppose the settlement.
Financial information regarding a massive shortfall in the funding of the Health and Welfare Trust, (HWT), a Nortel LTD employee benefit fund, was only disclosed on February 18, 2010. The group’s expert, Diane Urquhart, estimates that the shortfall in this trust fund may be in excess of $100 million. Ms. Urquhart believes that “the rights given up under the settlement agreement far exceed any benefits provided to the LTD beneficiaries.”
Further, the requirement that one must oppose the settlement in person, rather than offering a written objection, fails to take into consideration the physical and financial challenges faced by this vulnerable group. Making an objection is near impossible for many LTD employees.
Jackie Brodie, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003, states that she and other LTD employees have long felt that their interests and concerns were being ignored. “All of a sudden I’m informed via a press release that I’ve agreed to a deal that I knew absolutely nothing about.”
For further information, the following documents may be of use: