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LINKS TO LITIGATION DOCUMENTS

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
Opening Brief - Paintiffs Memorandum of Points and Authorities
Reply Brief 12-15-2008
Judge’s Ruling 6-26-2009

LITIGATION SUMMARY


BACKGROUND:

1985
County takes formal action to establish an insurance premium pool that combines active employees and retirees; thereby equalizing insurance premiums.


1993
County implements the Retiree Medical Program (RMP) and, on a one time basis, invites retirees to participate in the RMP even if they are not currently enrolled in County insurance programs.


2004
County identifies a $1.4 Billion Unfunded Liability over the next 30 years for the RMP.


2005
County negotiates with unions to separate retirees out of the health insurance premium pool previously shared with active employees.

2006
County holds workshop in June regarding the new split insurance pool indicating cost increases to retirees of approximately $30 to $60 a month.  Board adopts contracts with unions, splits the insurance premium pool and compensates active employees at a cost of $1.8 Billion over next 30 years.


2007
Rate setting for 2008 insurance premiums results in a $10 Million cost shift to retirees.  The average additional cost to retirees for insurance coverage is $160 a month. Most retiree premium increases cost an additional $200 to $300 per month and some increases reach an additional $880 a month.


With the financial assistance from our members, REAOC retains the legal services of Moscone, Emblidge and Quadra, LLP, a law firm based in San Francisco to challenge the County’s actions.  Retiree volunteers work tirelessly to provide research, analysis, statistical data and facts to the law firm. On November 5, 2007 a lawsuit is filed in Federal Court challenging the County’s actions to reduce retiree medical benefits.

2008 Discovery process begins and efforts intensify.  Motions and cross motions filed.  conference calls, meetings with counsel, depositions document collection, research and court appearances follow.  A Summary Judgment Motion is filed to expedite the process.  On December 22 an extraordinary number of retirees attend a scheduled court hearing.  The judge takes all arguments under submission.  Six months later, a ruling is issued.


The trial court rules in favor of the County.  An appeal is filed by MEQ in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. REAOC’s opening brief is filed August 28th.  The County’s response is filed September 28th and REAOC’s reply to that brief is filed on October 12th.  An amicus brief is filed in support of REAOC’s appeal. Signatories include the CA Retired County Employees Association (CRCEA), the CA Federation of Teachers, The Faculty Association of the CA Community Colleges and the CA Community Colleges Independents’ Organization.  See the update below regarding the court date for the appeal.
 
 
 
 
 


ADDITIONAL LEGAL ACTION

March 2008 The Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) Board unanimously approves REAOC’s request to allow litigation fund contributions to be deducted directly from monthly retirement checks.

September 2008 The Orange County Board of Supervisors threatens to sue OCERS for allowing REAOC members to make modest contributions through monthly pension deductions.

September 2009 Orange County Board of Supervisors pass a new resolution limiting REAOC’s ability to collect litigation funds through monthly pension checks and defines  dues 'for limited purposes of payment of regular membership dues' and may not be used for elective dues contributions (e.g.: litigation funds used to challenge County actions).  OCERS researches implementation of resolution.

December 2009 REAOC members vote to increase dues to $3.00 per month.

March 2010 Additional dues amounts for the litigation fund are no longer available through monthly pension deductions.  Members are now required to support legal efforts through alternative means.

In 2009 REAOC members approved the formation of a 501(c)(4) corporation as an adjunct to REAOC’s current 501(c)(7) status, thereby, allowing REAOC to become more active in advocating for retirees via legislative, lobbying, legal and political efforts.


LITIGATION UPDATE JUNE 2010

LITIGATION UPDATE—HEARING HELD ON JUNE 10, 2010

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal held a hearing on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 9AM at the Pasadena courthouse.  On that date our attorneys argued to a three-judge appellate panel that the trial judge (Judge Guilford) incorrectly ruled in favor of the County in his June, 2009 opinion dismissing REAOC’s case.  We asked the appeals court to overturn the trial judge’s order and enter a ruling in REAOC’s favor.  The appeal’s panel will make its ruling sometime after June 10th.  Approximately 45 retirees and the REAOC Board of Directors attended the hearing to show support for the process.

While the legal process has been complicated and lengthy, we firmly believe every effort should be made to protect retiree rights and benefits. On behalf of the entire REAOC Board of Directors we thank you for your continued commitment, support and patience.

ENCOURAGING NEWS

Following the June 10, 2010 hearing in Pasadena, the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has certified our retiree medical lawsuit against the County of Orange to the California State Supreme Court.  The three-judge panel presiding over the hearing did not agree with the federal trial court ruling that California law clearly forbids implied terms in public employment contracts.  Because our case presents an important question of state law, the panel asked the State Supreme Court for guidance on the issue. The question as posed by the appellate court is whether, as a manner of California law, a California county and its employees can form an implied contract that confers vested rights to the health benefits of retired County employees.

Our attorneys are confident that state law recognizes implied terms in public employment agreements, including implied promises to pay retirement health benefits. Once decided, the case will be returned to the 9th Circuit to assist in the decision making process.

This action, while another hurdle in a long process, is certainly a step toward our ultimate goal to reverse the trial court decision and gain back the benefits you earned while employed by the County of Orange.  To view the federal appellate court decision, please go to the link found below.

Thank you for your continued support in this crucial court action.  We will keep you informed of further developments as they occur.  

                           CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FEDERAL APPELLATE COURT DECISION


LITIGATION UPDATE JULY 2010

2011 RETIREE MEDICAL PLANS & 2011 PROPOSED RATES

County staff notified REAOC that two retiree-related items were on the Board of Supervisor’s Tuesday, July 27th agenda.  Agenda Staff Reports #41 & #43, were subsequently adopted, and may have a significant impact on your health plan coverage and your finances.  Please see the very important message below regarding these items.  
REAOC officers, directors and volunteers poured over the mound of paperwork involved in reviewing and analyzing the recommendations proposed by the county’s Human Resources Department.  The following describes some of the changes:
Agenda Item 41:  Wellwise and Sharewell plan costs will dramatically increase by 24.6% for 2011 if current recommendations are adopted.  Pre-65 retirees enrolled in Wellwise will see increases ranging from $223 to $558 per month.  For pre-65 retirees enrolled in Sharewell increases range from $78 to $180 a month.  For post-65 retirees enrolled in Wellwise cost increases range from $101 to $492 a month.  Sharewell enrollees who are post 65 will see increases in rates from $35 to $123 a month. The grant is scheduled to increase by 3% which will offset about $9 per month of the average retiree premium.  Most retirees 65 through 68 will see their grants increase about $4.50 per month to offset a portion of the increased rates.  We do not know what the Medicare Part B premium rate will increase at this time although it remains mandatory for health plan coverage in a County plan for anyone over age 65.
REAOC is not in agreement with the calculations used to determine the cost of coverage in these plans and has sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors requesting a continuance of the item so that REAOC representatives can meet with county staff to discuss these extraordinary increases.  The letter is attached for your review. Even though the continuance was granted on one of the items, it subsequently was heard at a later Board of Supervisor's meeting and was approved.
Agenda Item 43:  Anthem Blue Cross is recommended to replace the CIGNA HMO Plan.  The replacement plans are described as comparable with overlapping network coverage and with cost increases over current CIGNA plan costs of 3%. A rate reduction of 32% from current CIGNA costs is quoted for retirees with Medicare Parts A & B.  However, Blue Cross offers a number of plans, and retirees during Open Enrollment will have the option to determine if any of the Blue Cross plans meet their needs.  Retirees currently enrolled in CIGNA who do not elect a change during open enrollment will be placed in a Blue Cross Plan by the county.
Kaiser rates will increase between 8 to 22% depending on the plan in which retirees are enrolled.  A new offering, SCAN, will provide a Medicare Advantage plan.
The Exclusive Care Plan (County of Riverside) will no longer be available effective January 1, 2011 to retirees.  A SCAN plan with home health services will be made available for qualifying post 65 retirees.
The rate tables are now posted on the REAOC website. Click on the "Medical Programs" button in the left hand column to see these rate tables.

Letter to the Board of Supervisors  
Following REAOC’s June 10th hearing in Pasadena the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified our retiree medical lawsuit to the California State Supreme Court.  Our attorneys at Moscone Emblidge & Sater LLP sent a letter to the State Supreme Court with a request to clarify the question of law presented in the certification.  An amicus letter in support of REAOC’s position was also sent by the Law firm of Robert J. Bezemek on behalf of organizations representing current and former faculty, staff and administrators in California K-12 pubic and private schools, Community Colleges, the University of California and private universities.  The county also filed a letter with an amicus letter from the California League of Cities and California State Association of Counties.  Copies of these documents are available for your review here on-line.  We will keep you apprised as further information becomes available. 

Letter to the Supreme Court - Request for Certification

Letter from J. Varga Regarding Amicus Letter of Support of REAOC's Petition

Letter from A. Hartinger to Supreme Court Regarding the County's Position

Amici Letter from J. Holtzman to Supreme Court in Support of County's Position
   
LITIGATION UPDATE AUGUST 2010

The following letters were sent during the month of August:

Letter Sent to the County Board of Supervisors from the REAOC Board on Behalf of REAOC Members Dated August 16, 2010 Regarding PPO Rates     Letter Sent to the California Supreme Court from REAOC Attorneys in Response to the Letter Sent by the County of Orange

Letter Sent to the California Supreme Court from REAOC Attorneys Requesting That Our Case Receive Calendar Preference

LITIGATION UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2010

Petitioner's Opening Brief to the California State Supreme Court on the Merits
 
LITIGATION UPDATE NOVEMBER 2010 

Respondent's Answers Brief on the Merits (the County's brief)
- due to the large size of this document, it cannot be posted on the REAOC website at this time.  If you would like to read a copy, please send an e-mail to reaoc@reaoc.org or call our office at (714) 840-3995.  An e-mail copy will be sent to you at your e-mail address.

Petitioner's Reply Brief on the Merits (REAOC's brief)

LITIGATION UPDATE JANUARY 2011

The following Amicus Briefs were filed with the California State Supreme Court on behalf of REAOC:

The California Public Employees' Retirement System in support of appellant.

California Retired County Employees Association, Sonoma County Association of Retired Employees, and Retiree Support Group of Contra Costa County in support of appellant.

The California Federation of Teachers, The California Community College Independents Organization and The Fresno Unified Retirees Association in support of appellant. Please note - due to the large size of this document, it cannot be posted on the REAOC website at this time.  If you would like to read a copy, please send an e-mail to reaoc@reaoc.org or call our office at (714) 840-3995.  An e-mail copy will be sent to you at your e-mail address.

League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties in
support of respondent.

Great news - our Calendar Preference was granted by the California Supreme Court.  To see the document, click on the link below:

Calendar Preference Document

LITIGATION UPDATE FEBRUARY 2011

Petitioner's Response to Amicus Brief Filed in Support of Respondent County of Orange   LITIGATION UPDATE MARCH 2011

Petitioner's Response to Amicus Brief Filed by County of Sonoma and County of Contra Costa in Support of Respondent, County of Orange

LITIGATION UPDATE OCTOBER 2011

The Supreme Court Hearing for the REAOC v. the County of Orange was argued in San Francisco at the California Supreme Court on October 3, 2011. You will find below the press release from the attorney who represented REAOC at the hearing. When the audio recording of the hearing is available, a link to that recording will be available on the REAOC website.
Galvan Argues on Behalf of Orange County Retirees in California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court heard arguments on October 3, 2011 in Retired Employees Association of Orange County v. County of Orange — an appeal characterized by one observer as “one of the most important cases in years for public agencies.” RBG’s Ernest Galvan argued on behalf of the retirees.

This closely-watched case is about whether a local government can take away retirement health benefits from former public employees who have already retired. The people being harmed here are over 5,000 Orange County retirees and survivors. Their average pension is $30,000 per year. Their access to health care depends on being part of the overall pool of Orange County employees and retirees when rates are set. When they worked for the County, they paid extra for their own family’s health insurance in order to make sure that retiree rates stayed under control. The County’s benefits staff and the employees considered these pooled retiree health plan rates to be one of the benefits of working for Orange County.
In 2005, Orange County tried to change the rules that had been established for decades. They saw the chance to take raise millions of dollars by shifting higher health insurance premiums to existing retirees, thus freeing up money that they could offer in pay raises to the current employees. The result is that current retirees have seen their premiums skyrocket. In a few years, those premiums will consume their entire pensions. Retirees in this case are not asking the county to pay their health insurance. They pay their own premiums. They are only asking that the County keep its promise that the retirees would pay premiums based on the entire County pool–not artificially inflated “retiree-only” premiums.
Commenting to a reporter after the argument, Galvan stated, “Our concern is that if the Supreme Court gives Orange County what it wants, it’s going to be open season on retirees.”
Governor Schwarzenegger’s Commission on Public Employee Pension Reform in 2007 singled out Orange County as unique in crossing the line between changing future benefits and taking benefits away from people who have already earned them: “Unlike many of the other agents profiled in this report, Orange County has addressed [retirement health benefits] by choosing to drastically change the structure of its retiree health plan to lower costs rather than to fund previous obligations.”
The Retired Employees Association of Orange County is challenging the County’s action in a federal lawsuit that was filed in Santa Ana in November 2007. In July of last year the 9th Circuit held that the central state-law question in that case – whether retired employees have a contract right to receive this benefit – was unsettled, and asked the state Supreme Court to provide clarification. The Supreme Court will issue its decision before the end of the year.
 

UPDATE
 

RE: Harris, et. al. vs County of Orange--On Tuesday, October 11th Attorney Michael Brown presented substantial arguments before a three member panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting a reversal of the District Court’s decision to dismiss this case. Attached is a link to the hearing for your consideration. While REAOC is not a party in this class action lawsuit your Board of Director’s is monitoring the progress of the case closely as it affects many members of our Association. The outcome of the hearing will be posted as soon as it is available.
To hear an audio transcript of the hearing, please click on the link below. You will see the Harris Et Al case in the middle of the page.

Audio Transcript of the Court Hearing  

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NOVEMBER 2011 LITIGATION UPDATE
 
On behalf of the entire REAOC Board of Directors, we are very pleased to report crucial information regarding your association’s retiree medical lawsuit. Yesterday, November 21, 2011, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of REAOC, holding that under California law an implied contract can arise between a county and its employees, under which the county can be required to pay retirement benefits that employees earned while they were working for the county. As you recall, the trial court had previously dismissed REAOC's lawsuit, finding that there can be no implied contracts in public employment. We always believed strongly that the trial court's ruling was incorrect, and now all seven of the Supreme Court justices have agreed with our position. The Supreme Court's opinion is attached for you to read if you would like.

This ruling means we have cleared the largest hurdle in our case, but there remains more work to do. The Supreme Court returned the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where that court will apply the Supreme Court's statement of state law to the facts of our case. We will keep you apprised as this case proceeds to the next phase.
We want to express our sincere thanks to our attorneys Michael Brown and Ernest ("Ernie") Galvan for their efforts and expertise. Also, thank you, REAOC members, for your continued support and commitment to our legal efforts to protect the benefits you earned while providing service to the public for so many years. Linda Robinson and Doug Storm
To read the entire Supreme Court decision, click on the link below.

Supreme Court Order
 

Following the recent California Supreme Court’s decision in the REAOC lawsuit, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asked both parties whether their preference was to have the Ninth Circuit adjudicate the case or remand it back to the District Court in Santa Ana.  Due to the critical nature of this case and hardships posed to retirees for the past four years, REAOC’s strong preference is to have the Ninth Circuit adjudicate the case.  As expected, the county’s preference is to further delay final court action by returning the case the District court.  For your review attached are the briefs filed by REAOC attorney Michael Brown and the county.  We will advise everyone of the Ninth Circuit’s decision as soon as it is available.  We want to thank everyone for your patience, determination and perseverance.

Click on this link to read REAOC's Brief

Click on this link to read the County's Brief

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Our lawsuit was remanded by the Supreme Court back to the district court in Santa Ana. The Supreme Court encouraged the district court to act promptly on the case. The district court set a date for a procedural hearing that was held on Monday, January 9th. Our attorney, Michael Brown, represented REAOC at this hearing.  Judge Guilford scheduled a Monday, March 19, 2012 hearing date.  Initial briefs related to this hearing are due in four weeks from both the County and our attorney. 
   

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LITIGATION UPDATE DECEMBER 2011
 
 
 
Following the recent California Supreme Court’s decision in the REAOC lawsuit, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asked both parties whether their preference was to have the Ninth Circuit adjudicate the case or remand it back to the District Court in Santa Ana. Due to the critical nature of this case and hardships posed to retirees for the past four years, REAOC’s strong preference is to have the Ninth Circuit adjudicate the case. As expected, the county’s preference is to further delay final court action by returning the case the District court. For your review attached are the briefs filed by REAOC attorney Michael Brown and the county. We will advise everyone of the Ninth Circuit’s decision as soon as it is available. We want to thank everyone for your patience, determination and perseverance.

Click on this link to read REAOC's Brief

Click on this link to read the County's Brief

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Our lawsuit was remanded by the Supreme Court back to the district court in Santa Ana. The Supreme Court encouraged the district court to act promptly on the case. The district court set a date for a procedural hearing that was held on Monday, January 9th. Our attorney, Michael Brown, represented REAOC at this hearing. Judge Guilford scheduled a Monday, March 19, 2012 hearing date. Initial briefs related to this hearing are due in four weeks from both the County and our attorney.

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The following is the REAOC Board of Directors’ response to an editorial appearing in the Orange County Register newspaper on November 30th. To date, our response has not been printed; however, we wanted to inform you of our opposition to the media’s interpretation of the California Supreme Court’s November 21st ruling regarding our retiree medical lawsuit. A link to the original editorial precedes this response.

Retiree Health Benefits: Matters of Fact
 
 

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. Your editorial “Court sides with retirees, against taxpayers” (November 30, 2011) is replete with assertions that bear no relation to the truth of the matter in dispute in the litigation between Orange County and its retired employees.  
First, the California Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Retired Employees Association of Orange County v. County of Orange was anything but “bizarre.” Indeed, this unanimous decision, reached by a Court made up of six Republican-appointed justices and just one Democratic appointee, merely confirmed a long-established principle of contract law: that contracts, whether in the public or private sector, may include “implied” terms, in addition to their express written terms.

Second, the Court did not limit government’s ability to alter “nonvested” benefits of its employees or retirees. Rather, it held, unremarkably, that the question whether a benefit is vested or nonvested is answered by looking to traditional, settled principles of contract interpretation.

Third, you assert that the benefit at issue in this case—retirees’ right to participate in the same premium “pool” as active employees—imposed “enormous liabilities” on the County. But the fact is that the County’s cost of providing that benefit was infinitesimal –approximately .03% (that’s three one-hundredths of one percent) of its annual budget. In fact, the County admitted, in sworn testimony, that its decision to segregate retirees into a separate pool was not motivated by financial concerns.

Finally, you say it is “absurd” to suggest that County retirees are suffering any hardship as a result of the County’s creation of the retiree-only premium pool in 2008. But the fact is this: premium inflation for Orange County retirees has tripled since the County made that drastic change in 2008. In 2007, a retiree with one dependent enrolled in the County’s indemnity health plan paid an annual premium of $14,000; for 2011 that premium has skyrocketed to $25,000. To deny that these increases impose hardship, when they come out of the pockets of a retiree population with an average annual pension income of just $30,000 is, to use your word, absurd.

The Editorial Board of the Register is certainly entitled to its opinion regarding this dispute. But the Register’s readers deserve better than an editorial that shows so little understanding of, or concern for, the facts of this important case.


Retired Employees Association of Orange County
Linda Robinson and Doug Storm, Co-presidents

Please use the link below to read the original editorial that was published by the Orange County Register on November 30, 2011.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/county-329359-benefits-retirees.html     
 
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LITIGATION UPDATE FEBRUARY 2012


As previously reported, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal remanded REAOC’s retiree medical lawsuit back to the United States District Court in Santa Ana for further consideration. Opening briefs were submitted to the Court by both REAOC and the county on February 6 and are available for your review. 

Click on this link to read REAOC’s opening brief

E-mail REAOC at reaoc@reaoc.org
to request a copy of County’s opening brief

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LITIGATION UPDATE MAY 2012



Our court hearing was held on Monday, May 21, 2012 at the US Federal Court House located at 411 W. 4th Street in Santa Ana. The judge in the hearing promised the attorneys representing REAOC and the County of Orange a quick decision. When the decision is available and can be published, it will be posted on our website. 

A copy of the transcript of the May 21, 2012 hearing is now available and can be sent to you by e-mail. If you would like to read a copy of the transcript, e-mail REAOC at reaoc@reaoc.org to request a copy of transcript from the hearing.

For your information, the briefs filed in the Federal Court on March 19, 2012 are available to you. To read the REAOC brief, click on the link below. As the County's brief is too large to post on the REAOC website, please contact REAOC at (714) 840-3995 or send an e-mail to reaoc@reaoc.org, and a copy will be e-mailed to you.

REAOC's Brief


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LITIGATION UPDATE JUNE 2012

RE: Harris, et. al. vs County of Orange--On Tuesday, October 11th Attorney Michael Brown presented substantial arguments before a three member panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting a reversal of the District Court’s decision to dismiss this case. While REAOC is not a party in this class action lawsuit your Board of Director’s is monitoring the progress of the case closely as it affects many members of our Association. An opinion regarding this hearing was received in June 2012.  That opinion by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the district court's dismissal of the Retirees' Subsidy claims and remands the case back to the district court so that the court may reassess those claims in light of the California Supreme Court's opinion in the REAOC v. County of Orange case.

To read a copy of the opinion, click on this link.


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LITIGATION UPDATE AUGUST 2012

In August 2012 we received an order from Judge Andrew Guilford of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. To view this ruling, click on the link below.

Click here to read the Court Order

Judge Guilford is the sitting judge in REAOC’s lawsuit against the County for splitting our healthcare insurance pool—a benefit that retirees earned while employed with the County of Orange. The judge, once again, ruled in favor of the county for the same reasons he did in his initial ruling; this despite being reversed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the State Supreme Court.

While this ruling is disappointing, it is not unexpected. It is our strong opinion the decision appears to have a number of issues subject to appeal. We have talked with our attorneys and are confident the case will be reviewed again in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. We are not swayed by this ruling and are presently proceeding with the appeals process.


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LITIGATION UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2012

On Monday, September 17, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals set the expedited briefing schedule. REAOC’s opening brief is due on February 19th, the county’s response is due March 20th and REAOC’s reply is due on April 3rd.

The briefs will be posted when they are available.  
 
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LITIGATION UPDATE JANUARY 2013 
 
 
Important Update Regarding the Class Action Lawsuit - A hearing was held regarding the Class Action Lawsuit, Gaylan Harris, et. al. v. the County of Orange on Monday, January 28, 2013 at the US Federal Court House in Judge Guilford's courtroom. While REAOC is not a party in this class action lawsuit, your REAOC Board of Directors is monitoring the progress of the case closely as it affects many members of our association. 

Judge Guilford provided his response to the Class Action Lawsuit hearing.  Our claim related to the changes made in the medical grant were once again denied.  Although we are disappointed in this ruling, we did have some good news.  Judge Guilford said he could not yet make a final decision on the FEHA (age discrimination) claim. He wants us to amend the complaint to clarify our claim, and he wants more briefing from the County regarding their basis for wanting the claim dismissed. We were given 30 days to amend our complaint and our attorney is preparing that document.
 
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SIGNIFICENT COURT RULING
 
  
In 2008 the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted to appreciably cut health care benefits for retirees.  Subsequently, a lawsuit was filed by 1,500 retired Sonoma County employees who said the County violated their rights when the County took this action.  The district court dismissed the suit stating the County had never expressly promised to continue covering retiree’s health benefits for life.  The Sonoma retirees appealed the lower court’s decision.  Early this week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Sonoma retirees’ lawsuit should not have been dismissed and should be allowed to proceed in the trial court  in San Francisco.  In reaching that ruling, the court relied almost exclusively on the precedent established by REAOC’s victory in the California Supreme Court in November 2011.   We expect this new decision will be very helpful in REAOC’s current appeal in the Ninth Circuit and also in the class action lawsuit.  To review the Sonoma County Association of Retirees’ ruling, please click on the link below.  
  
 
 
 
 
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LITIGATION UPDATE NOVEMBER 2013
 
As previously reported all briefs in the REAOC vs. County of Orange lawsuit were submitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In July, however, the county filed several procedural motions in the Ninth Circuit in an attempt to prevent REAOC from making certain arguments and presenting certain evidence to the appellate court. REAOC was required to prepare briefs responding to each of the motions. The court has ruled in REAOC’s favor on the most important of those motions. That ruling cleared the way for the court to schedule the hearing. 
 
The appeal hearing was held on November 4, 2013. A panel of three judges heard the presentation by REAOC's attorney, Michael Brown, and the presentation by the County of Orange's attorney.  They will be rendering a decision of this appeal within the next few months.  When that decision is available, we will post the information on this website.
 
 
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LITIGATION UPDATE FEBRUARY 2014


On February 13, 2014 we received disappointing news from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel which heard our case in Pasadena on November 4, 2013. In its ruling the panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Orange County ruling that “a practice or policy extended over a period of time does not translate into an implied contract right without clear legislative intent to create that right--an intent that the Association had not demonstrated in this case. The panel held that the nature of the Association’s evidence underscored the absence of any definitive intent or commitment on the part of the County to provide for the pooled premium.” In other words, the panel indicated that an “implied” contract term was nearly impossible, if not in writing—at least that is our interpretation of their ruling.

This ruling comes as a surprise, given the extensive documentation provided to the court during the past six years. Also surprising, is the panel’s interpretation of the California Supreme Court’s ruling in the REAOC case as well as a recent ruling made by another Ninth Circuit panel involving Sonoma County retirees—a case similar to ours. The extrinsic evidence presented to the panel included on-the-record comments by past board of supervisor members and direct testimony from the county’s past chief labor negotiator supporting the continuance of a co-mingled insurance pool. We are currently discussing our options with our attorneys and will provide additional information as to our membership as soon as possible. 

A copy of the ruling can be read by clicking on the link below.



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REAOC Litigation Update March 2014

Attached is REAOC's  submission of the Petition for Rehearing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.  The actual Request  is 12 pages in length but the submission document includes the panel’s ruling of last month helping to increase the Request  to 32 pages.



  
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