RI judge restores health care benefits to more than 50 Woonsocket police retirees

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WOONSOCKET – A Superior Court judge restored full health care benefits to more than 54 retirees in the police de Woonsocket after finding that the city and its budget committee violated the contractual clause of the Rhode Island Constitution by forcing them to pay deductibles indefinitely.

Justice Jeffrey A. Lanphear ruled in favor of retirement police theagent Glen Hebert, who in 2013 challenged the commission’s power to unilaterally cut retiree health care benefits as part of emergency measures to alleviate the city’s financial distress. When Hebert quit his job in 2005, the police contract provided for free major medical insurance for life for retirees and their beneficiaries.

“After a long and drawn out battle of 7.5 years, my clients are pleased that the Court has accepted our arguments that these vested interests in retirement health care cannot be permanently changed,” said Edward C Roy Jr., who represented the retirees.

Roy couldn’t put a figure on the amount owed to retirees, but said it was being assessed.

The cuts to the health sector were among the measures the budget committee, appointed after the city plunged into a financial crisis, put in place as part of a …

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