Firefighter Can Add Health Insurance Dependents After Retirement

William Giblin was employed by Johnson City, New York as a firefighter. When he retired, he received family coverage health insurance benefits for himself and his then-wife pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement in effect between the City and Giblin’s firefighters’ union. The relevant provision of the contract provided that “all present retirees of the Fire Department and all members who retire in the future shall continue to receive…

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Forfeiture Of Pension Too Harsh A Penalty For Firefighter’s Cocaine Use

Thomas McDougall was a 25-year member of the Fire Department of the City of New York. After a positive random drug test confirmed the presence of cocaine in McDougall’s system, a “Step-1” conference was held to review the charges for violation of regulations brought against McDougall by the Department. Following that conference, a deputy assistant chief of the Department recommended that, although he found McDougall guilty of all charges,…

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First Wife, Not Second, Receives Widow’s Benefits After Officer Dies

Brian Goode was hired as a police officer by the Borough of Keansburg, New Jersey in August 1987. At the time, he was married to his first wife, Tamara. Brian enrolled in the Police and Fire Retirement System and designated Tamara as his primary beneficiary for all death benefits. Brian and Tamara divorced in 1991, but he did not change the PFRS beneficiary designation. In 1992, Brian married Karen…

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Court Dismisses Federal Criminal Charges Against San Diego Pension Trustees

Potentially bringing to an end one of the most protracted criminal prosecutions of public pension trustees, a federal court in California has dismissed all charges against five trustees of San Diego’s troubled pension fund. The trustees were charged with the violation of Section 1346 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which forbids entering into a “scheme or artifice to defraud another of the intangible right of honest…

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Employer Can Change Post-Retirement Health Insurance Benefits Without Violating Constitution

For many years, the collective bargaining agreement between the State of Rhode Island and Council 94 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) contained a clause requiring the State to pay a portion of the costs of post-retirement health insurance. The most recent agreement between the State and AFSCME expired on June 30, 2008, and the State gave timely notice to AFSCME that it was…

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Uniform Allowance Not Counted In Retirement Calculation

Corrections officers working for Suffolk County, Massachusetts are eligible to receive holiday pay, a fitness bonus, a uniform allowance, longevity pay, and an educational differential in addition to their normal salary. When Robert O’Brien suffered disabling injuries in the course of his employment, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts had to decide which of these payments were properly included in the pension contribution. Owing largely to a string of earlier…

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Attorney Violates Firefighter’s Due Process Rights In Disability Hearing

Darren Williams, a firefighter with the Village of Morton Grove, Illinois, filed an application for a line-of-duty disability pension with the Board of Trustees of the Morton Grove Firefighters’ Pension Fund. Williams contended that he injured his right shoulder while responding to an ambulance call during which he transferred a patient from an ambulance cot to a hospital bed. The local Pension Board consisted of three firefighters, the president…

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System Has Authority to Order Fire Department to Terminate Chief

One of the provisions in Oklahoma’s police and fire pension statutes is that “no person shall be employed in a fire department who has reached the age of 45 years, unless it appears he shall become eligible for retirement at the age of 65 years, or unless he retired from a municipal fire department in the State of Oklahoma.” When the City of Spencer hired Ronald Cummings, who was…

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Officer Who Accidentally Killed Fellow Officer Wins PTSD Disability

On March 25, 2005, members of the Easton, Pennsylvania Police Department SWAT team, including Matthew Renninger and Officer Jesse Sollman, returned to the Easton Police Department after a day of SWAT training and began breaking down and cleaning various weapons used that day. Renninger took his firearm, a 40-caliber handgun, out of his holster and placed it on a bench in the locker room. Renninger placed the gun on…

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Officer Who Resigned Job To Work In Iraq Has No Right To Former Job

Peter Barton was a detective sergeant with the City of Bristol, Connecticut. On July 28, 2004, Barton requested a military leave of absence from the Department so that he could work for DynCorp, a private company that contracts with the United States Department of State to recruit, select, equip and deploy police officers for overseas service. While Barton was waiting for the City’s response to his request for a…

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Non-Disabled Deputies Lose Conspiracy Claim

The collective bargaining agreement between Multnomah County, Oregon and the Multnomah Deputy Sheriffs Association contained a “wage re-opener” clause allowing the Association to open negotiations on wages to be effective July 1, 2005. The wage negotiations dragged on, and a settlement was not reached until August 9, 2007. By its terms, the settlement only granted retroactivity to employees who were on the County’s payroll as of the date of…

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Acting Chief Entitled To Leave Payouts At Chief’s Rate

When a sergeant with 25 years of service to the Baldwin Borough, Pennsylvania Police Department agreed to become Acting Chief of Police, the Borough accepted his demands that he be paid chief’s salary. He served less than three months in the Acting Police Chief role, and then retired. When the Borough did not calculate his sick leave, personal leave, and vacation time payouts at the chief’s rate, the Baldwin…

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No Right To Refuse To Arbitrate Retiree Healthcare Grievance

The contract between the City of Niagara Falls, New York and the Niagara Falls Police Club contains a clause dealing with retirement benefits. When the Club filed a grievance challenging decisions made by the City concerning retiree healthcare benefits, the City refused to arbitrate the grievance, claiming that the Club had no right to represent retirees. The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court upheld an order forcing…

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Sergeant Loses Lawsuit Over Batmobile

A mobile office for the anti-drunk driving unit of the West Virginia State Police is known as the “Batmobile.” On September 20, 2005, Sergeant David Hawkins was working as a sergeant in the Batmobile. When Hawkins was routinely exiting the Batmobile with a cape slung over his shoulder, the cape caught on a hook-shaped latch on the vehicle, yanking him backwards and herniating three discs in his back. Hawkins…

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Moving Fire Hose Not Accidental Injury

Like some other states, New York’s workers’ compensation system grants public safety officers a higher disability retirement if the disability is caused by an “accident.” New York courts have defined an accident as a “sudden, fortuitous mischance, unexpected, out of the ordinary, and injurious in impact.” Raymond Baron is a firefighter with Village of Mamaroneck Fire Department. On November 11, 2002, Baron responded to a structure fire. As he…

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California Requires Proof Of Carcinogen Exposure For Workers’ Comp Presumption

Chris Fain worked as a police officer for the City of Fresno, California from 1972 to 2006. Within a month after his retirement, Fain submitted an application for workers’ compensation benefits seeking coverage for a tumor in his head. Fain subsequently passed away and his wife pursued his workers’ compensation claim. Under California law, the cancer of a firefighter or peace officer is presumed to be caused by the…

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Retired Police And Firefighters Association Has No Standing To Challenge Retirement Board Composition

The Detroit City Charter requires the City to have two governing bodies for its retirement plans, one for the general retirement system and one for the police and fire retirement system. The Charter also provides that one member of the police and fire retirement board be a retiree elected by retired police officers and firefighters. The Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association sued the City, requesting a court…

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