California County Rejects Retiree Health Plan Appeal – 9th Circ

  • The court revived the requests in 2012, 2018

Orange County, Calif., Has not broken its contract with retired employees by reducing the amount of a monthly grant to cover the cost of their health insurance premiums, a court said on Thursday. American call.

In a 2 – 1 reviews, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by a federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif., who found no evidence that the county had ever promised, or even implied, that the grants would not would never change.

Retirees said the promise was implied when the county and the workers’ union first accepted the grant in 1993 and that it was expressly included in annual agreements between 1994 and 2007.

Thursday’s ruling was the third time the 9th Circuit weighed in on the case, which Gaylan Harris first filed on behalf of thousands of Orange County retirees in 2009 – two years after the county and the union restructured the health benefits of retirees and cut subsidies by 50%.

Arthur Hartinger of the Renne Public Law Group, which has advocated the county case, said in an email that he “acted responsibly to save a medical plan that was on the verge of bankruptcy” at the time, and is “very satisfied” with the Decision of the 9th Circuit.

Retirees’ lawyer Michael Brown of Gordon Tilden Thomas Cordell said in an email they were discussing a petition for a new hearing.

Circuit Judge Johnnie Rawlinson on Thursday upheld Senior U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford’s ruling in 2019 that there was no evidence of an express or implied contract to continue the monthly grant “in perpetuity.” She was joined by U.S. District Judge Morrison England of the Eastern District of California, sitting by designation.

Circuit Judge Danielle Forrest agreed with much of the majority’s decision, but reportedly referred the case for further investigation into the retiree theory that under California law the 1993 contained an implied and enforceable promise that the subsidy would always be calculated by the formula indicated.

The case is Gaylan Harris, on behalf of himself and others in a similar situation, c. County of Orange, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals No. 19-56387. For Harris: Michael Brown of Gordon Tilden Thomas Cordell For Orange County: Arthur Hartinger, Renne Public Law Group

(Note: this story has been updated to include comments from retiree and county attorneys)

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