City of Duluth claims victory in retiree benefits caseby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Duluth, Minn. — Duluth officials are claiming victory in a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling in the city's battle with retirees over health benefits.
A Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the a district court's ruling from a year ago that the city could drop more than 100 different versions of health plans in favor of putting all retirees on the same plan as current employees.
"It is a tremendous victory for the taxpayers of Duluth, and for the financial health of our city going forward," Duluth Mayor Don Ness said.
Ness says the move, which took effect Jan. 1, will save the city millions of dollars. The retirees haven't yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.
Meanwhile, the appeals court also reversed a procedural ruling by the district court. Retirees' attorney Shelley Marquard says that could still give retirees the opportunity to argue that the city effectively promised to continue the retiree health coverage by providing it for decades.
Marquardt said the district court didn't give them the chance to argue that the city had effectively promised to preserve their health coverage by providing it for decades.
"I'm very pleased that the Court of Appeals recognized that," she said.
She says that could give retirees another chance to argue their case. The retirees have yet to decide on an appeal of the ruling.