We’re betting that no one was more relieved by Verizon‘s Nov. 2 defeat of a $1.67 billion ERISA class action than a former Bell Atlantic in-house lawyer named Barry Peters. Peters, as he testified at a September hearing in the case, was responsible for the typographical error in the Bell Atlantic ERISA plan that was the basis of the billion-dollar class claims.

Anyone could have made the mistake Peters made. In the 1990s — before it was acquired by Verizon — Bell Atlantic switched over from one pension plan to another. It was a major undertaking, and to assure employees that the change was fair, the company boosted opening balances in the new plan by multiplying the cash-out value of each employee’s stake in the old plan by a variable “transition factor” that was based on age and years of service.

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