MN Court Blocks Retiree Health Changes

June 27, 2008 ( - A Minnesota judge has blocked the city of Duluth from making any changes to the health coverage of two of its retirees and a third retired employee's spouse.

The Duluth News-Tribune said   Sixth Judicial District Judge Kenneth Sandvik granted the request for a preliminary injunction after a hearing in Duluth. S andvik told lawyers for both sides he based the injunction ruling on an April agreement in which the city said it would make no change in health insurance benefits without prior reasonable notice to the plaintiffs and their attorneys.

The city fought the restraining order request, arguing the plaintiffs’ health-care plans and coverage, including benefits and deductibles, have not been altered since they joined the city’s plan. Officials said they made no changes in benefits or increases in deductibles in 2008 that would negatively affect the plaintiffs’ coverage.

The newspaper said retired city employees Hartley Conrad and Paula Savela; and Carol Griak, the wife of a retired city employee, sued the city last month over coverage changes.

Sandvik scheduled another hearing in August to decide whether to continue on to a preliminary or temporary injunction, which would extend the order he issued. He suggested to the parties that they consider entering “meaningful settlement discussions,” the newspaper reported.