WPCNR White Plains Law Journal. By John F. Bailey. December 5, 2013:
The police retirees fight for guaranteed benefits for life they felt had always been guaranteed will continue to trial, police retirees attorney Albert Pirro told WPCNR today.
Albert J. Pirro is the attorney for 98 White Plains police retirees (hired before 1996) who are fighting the City of White Plains over the city decision to require they pay 15% of their health care costs, a measure arbitrarily introduced by the city in 2010.
The retirees sued the city in federal court, and yesterday, Pirro said, Federal Judge Cathy Seibel denied the city’s motion to dismiss the case, allowing the sensitive case to move to trial.
Pirro said the sensitive case that could affect hundreds of public employees across New York State, could now proceed to discovery and a trial, pending a city appeal of Judge Seibel’s decision. Pirro said he did not know if the city planned to appeal at this time.
Pirro told WPCNR Thursday morning, the judge denied all three city grounds for dismissal advanced by the city-employed law firm of Lamb & Barnosky.
“The judge denied the first city grounds for dismissal that Federal law was not involved, because the city had won an arbitration award from the police in 1997. The judge said that did not apply to the pre-1996 hires. Second, the judge denied the city motion to dismiss the case on grounds that the retirees’ constitution rights were not violated. We were able to convince the judge that citizen’s contractual rights were violated which are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”
WPCNR notes: That constitutional clause appears in Article I, section 10, clause 1. It states:
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
“Third, (Pirro said) the city maintained police retirees should not have depended on the full health benefits being maintained forever (even though they had been receiving them for 20 years or more0 . We showed that the resolution of 1967 ( adopted 43 years prior to the demand the retirees pay 15% of health costs), guaranteeing full health cost benefits for life said it.”
Pirro estimated that the city has spent a half million dollars paying lawyers to fight the suit nearly half what the city would have to pay the affected police retirees.
Mr. Pirro said he had not received a copy of the decision yet, which Judge Seibel delivered yesterday at the Charles Brient Federal Court House in White Plains.
Previously, Judge Seibel in December 2011 had overturned the police retiree injunction against the city prohibiting the city from collecting from retirees. The Wednesday decison was her ruling on the city motion to dismiss, the city police retirees’ suit altogether. The action has been in dispute for three and a half years.