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Settlement for UI Retirees in Benefits Class Action

By Jason Beahm on July 12, 2010 7:02 AM

The University of Idaho has settled a class action lawsuit filed by 250 retired employees over changes the university made to their insurance benefits. The employees took early retirement buyouts in 1998 and 2002 that came with certain ongoing health benefits. In 2007, in a cost cutting measure, the university changed the plan, forcing the retirees to pay for part of their premiums. The retirees sued and gained class action status.

A Latah County District Court judge approved the settlement, despite some protestations from class members. Under the settlement, unless the university declares a financial emergency, it cannot increase health insurance premiums by more than 10 percent year over year. In addition, the University of Idaho cannot lower life insurance benefits to less than $10,000.

The retirees contended that the university agreed to pay all of the medical and life insurance premiums. As evidence, they had a video tape where a University of Idaho attorney assured a group of retirees their benefits would never be changed. However, the university contended that it had the right to revise the benefits. A judge later agreed.

The retirees had filed an appeal, but the university and the retirees were instead able to agree on a settlement that made nearly everyone happy about the resolution.

"The class members and representatives have taken the position that this settlement is fair and adequate," Moscow attorney Ron Landeck said, reported by the Lewiston Morning Tribune.

The University of Idaho released a statement, in which spokeswoman Tania Thompson said "The university values the contributions of all of its retirees and is pleased that the litigation has been brought to an ending everyone supports."

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