A dozen former employees of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are suing the local daily for fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation, claiming that the paper's top brass pulled out of a 2007 agreement promising lifetime health benefits if the staffers agreed to early retirement.
The retirees allege that the P-D told them last year that effective Jan. 1, 2011, it would no longer pay the premiums for post-retirement medical coverage, and it hasn't.
The defendants listed in the 54-page complaint are St. Louis Post-Dispatch, LLC; Kevin Mowbray, president and publisher; and Astrid Garcia, vice president of human resources and labor operations.
The complaint states that the defendants "willfully, maliciously, falsely, and fraudulently represented to the Plaintiff that if Plaintiff accepted the early retirement offer and incentive package, the Plaintiff would receive certain benefits including, post-retirement medical coverage at no cost to him for the rest of his life ... Had Plaintiff known the true facts, he would not have accepted the early retirement offer. "
The plaintiffs seek actual and punitive damages.
In an e-mail to the St. Louis Beacon, which reported on the suit yesterday, Post-Dispatch spokeswoman Tracy Rouch said the paper "believes there is no basis for these allegations and that we will be vindicated in court."
Two of the plaintiffs currently work for the Beacon.
Last week the paper's parent company, Lee Enterprises, filed for bankruptcy.