PHILLIP A. LAMBERT JR. sent a message to Mary Barra that said:
WHERE IS MY GM HUGHS PENSION
High Court to Settle Hughes Pension Feud
By DAVID G. SAVAGE
April 28, 1998
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal filed by Hughes Aircraft Co. in a case involving whether retirees from the Los Angeles-based aerospace firm are entitled to claim part of an estimated $1.2-billion surplus that accumulated in the company pension fund.
The decision, expected early next year, could have a profound impact on how companies handle pensions in the future. The law remains unclear on the rights of retirees to challenge changes in the pension plans of their former employers.
Five retirees sued Hughes on behalf of 10,000 workers who were in the plan as of 1991. Their mandatory contributions over the years had helped build the surplus, they said.
After 1989, the company changed the pension plan and quit making its own contributions to the fund, they said. Instead, the firm used some of the surplus money to pay for buyouts and early retirements, the lawsuit claims. When General Motors Corp. acquired Hughes, its pension plan was underfunded by $7 billion, and the lawsuit suggests that some of the Hughes money was diverted to the auto makerâs depleted retirement fund.
Hughes Aircraft Company was a major aerospace and defense company founded by Howard Hughes. The group was based in Culver City, California.
Hughes Aircraft was acquired by General Motors in 1985. In 1995, Hughes Aircraft sold its automated wire and die bonder division to an investor group led by Citicorp and incorporated the division as Palomar Technologies. In 2008, Citicorp sold the bonder division to the current management team at Palomar Technologies . GM sold off the aerospace and defense operations during the late 1990s; Hughes Aircraft was sold to Raytheon in 1997 and the Hughes Research Laboratories became jointly owned by Boeing, GM, and Raytheon. Raytheon has since sold its share to GM and Boeing, but remains a customer of Hughes Research Laboratories. Hughes Space and Communications Company was purchased by Boeing in 2000 and renamed Boeing Satellite Development Center. GM sold the remainder of Hughes Electronics to News Corporation which renamed the company DirecTV Group.