CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County man is suing Appalachian power and American Electric Power after he claims they led him to believe they were not offering severance packages to retirees.

William David Richards was employed by the defendants since May 1973 as a union employee, according to a complaint filed Feb. 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Richards claims in early 2010, he asked the defendants' human resources representative regarding severance packages for retirees and was told that no severance programs were contemplated by the defendants and that no negotiations between the defendants and the union were pending about any severance packages for union employees.

In reliance on those representations, Richards decided to retire and completed the applicable paperwork, and completed his last day of employment on March 31, 2010, according to the suit.

On April 14, 2010, Richards claims AEP announced a voluntary severance program which allowed participating employees to receive two weeks of base pay for every year of service.

To participate in the severance program, an employee was required to be on active full time status on April 1, 2010, according to the suit.

Richards claims the severance program "contemplated that an employee who had already announced an intention to retire was still eligible to participate in the severance program as long as the employee remained employed until at least April 1, 2010."

Because Richards' last day was one day prior to April 1, 2010, he was informed that he was not eligible for the severance package, according to the suit.

Richards claims if he had been informed of the program, he would have delayed his retirement until after April 1, 2010, to assure his entitlement to the severance payments.

The defendants negligently and carelessly supplied false, misleading, inaccurate, and/or erroneous information to Richards, according to the suit.

Richards claims the defendants also breached their duties to him, even if done without the intent to deceive.

Richards is seeking compensatory damages. He is being represented by John J. Polak and Matthew M. Hatfield.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-173

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