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Retirees Claim Post-Dispatch Tricked Them

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A dozen former employees claim the cash-strapped St. Louis Post-Dispatch used a bait-and-switch scheme to entice them into early retirement.

The 12 plaintiffs, six men and six women, say they accepted the early retirement package in 2007, which included paid lifetime health benefits.

But they say Post-Dispatch told them that effective Jan. 1, 2011, it would no longer pay the premiums for post-retirement medical coverage, and it hasn't.

They claim the Post-Dispatch and its defendant officers - President and Publisher Kevin Mowbray and Astrid Garcia, vice president of human resources and labor operations - knew that the paper would not honor the paid medical benefits promise when it made it in 2007.

"Defendants did not intend to provide the plaintiff with post-retirement medical coverage at no cost to him for the rest of his life, but instead, willfully and maliciously made those representations in order to induce plaintiff to accept defendant's early retirement offer and buyout," the complaint states. "These representations were made pursuant to a design and scheme by defendants."

The plaintiffs seeking actual and punitive damages for negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent inducement. They are represented by Staci Yandle of O'Fallon, Ill.

Lee Enterprises, the Post-Dispatch's parent company, announced Friday that it was voluntarily entering into bankruptcy to restructure $769.5 million of debt.

Lee Enterprises is not named as a defendant in this complaint.

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