A conversation with an attorney for the Association of U S West
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Q. Why did you decide to do this type of work -- taking on
large corporations on behalf of retirees?
A: I've been doing this line of work for 25 years. Now that
I'm into it, I can't leave it because these people continue to
be mistreated and discarded by corporate America.
I got started years ago when I began to see that companies took
advantage of retirees all for the goal of making more profit.
What I saw in the early '80s is a trend in this country where
corporations were casting aside their promises to retirees, and
that's just not right.
When I first started doing this work, the people I helped out,
they worked 35 to 40 years for one company. You don't see that
anymore. That really had an impression on me that these people
deserve the best help they can get.
Q: What was the first company you battled against on behalf of
A: It was known as Southern Bell Telephone Co., based out of
Florida. It's a part of what AT&T had. It was a worker at
Southern Bell who came to Denver, and then it was time to go
back, and they didn't want him to come back. He came to Denver
for training. That was my first exposure to companies not
living up to their promises.
Q: How many Bell System-related cases have you handled over the
A: Over 70. Five are pending right now.
Q: How big is your firm?
A: It's just me. I don't have a paralegal; I don't have a
secretary ... I do it all. I do the typing. I physically run
to the post office. I do all my delivering. I do all the
research and writing.
Q: What was the significance of former Qwest chief Joe
Nacchio's conviction on illegal insider trading for US
A: It's important that they see some justice. This is gluttony
at its worst. ... He was so callous. He was so unconcerned
about terminating employment. I saw that aspect more than I saw
the investment losses.
Q: What has been the most gratifying moment of your career?
A: I stand proud that I helped ensure that 30,500 (US West)
retirees received lifetime healthcare coverage at no cost. I
was able to get US West leadership to memorialize a guarantee of
healthcare coverage, which to this day is binding on Qwest. As
a result of that litigation (in 1996), that outcome is worth
hundreds of millions of dollars. The satisfaction I get out of
it is knowing that it's worth more to those people than their
Q: Who are your heroes?
A: That's been a troubling question for me because I can't put
my finger on someone. ... But I can tell you that my heroes in
the real sense were my schoolteachers. And my foster parents.
Between those two sets of people, I wouldn't be where I am if it
weren't for them.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I spend all of my time with my children. I have three
children -- 7, 9 and 10.
Edited for space and clarity from an interview by staff
writer Andy Vuong.