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July 30, 2001
Benefits Mistake Costs Pfizer $500G
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drug maker Pfizer Inc. has agreed to a nearly half-million dollar settlement of an 11-year legal battle over retirement benefits.

The payment centers on the company denying to a worker that it had a certain retirement incentive, when in fact it did, according to the Associated Press.

The employee initially sued for $39,000, the value of the benefit, but ended up 11 years later with a settlement that includes the $39,000 plus interest and $400,000 to cover legal fees.

Groton, Conn.-based Pfizer agreed Monday to settle the lawsuit that had initially been filed in 1990 by former employee James F. Mullins of Groton, who worked for 34 years in the company's manufacturing plant.

Mullins' lawyer, Thomas G. Moukawsher, said the dispute arose as his client prepared to retire from the company in 1990. Mullins tried to find out from his employers about a retirement incentive he had heard about but was told that no such program existed.

Shortly after Mullins retired, Moukawsher said, company officials announced the same package Mullins had asked about.

The settlement calls for Pfizer to pay the original $39,000 along with $23,000 in interest on the benefits and $400,000 in attorneys' fees and court costs.

The case went to trial at federal court in New Haven, Conn., where on May 25 another judge found for Mullins on all points and concluded that Pfizer knowingly withheld key information from retiring employees.

The judge also found that the New York-based company engaged in a "misinformation campaign" designed to keep workers in the dark about its plans to improve benefits.

To view the Associated Press story, click here.
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