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District Court Grants Summary Judgment Again for Orange County in its Retiree Medical Litigation

REAOC vs. County of Orange, SACV-01-1301 AG

On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, the United States District Court granted summary judgment on behalf of the County in longstanding litigation stemming from Orange County’s decision to “de-pool” retiree and active health care rates.

Summary judgment was earlier granted to the County on June 19, 2009.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals then certified a question to the California Supreme Court – whether a vested right to health care benefits may be “implied.”   The Supreme Court issued its decision in November 2011, and explained those limited circumstances under which an implied right to compensation may exist.   This decision now re-affirms summary judgment, concluding that the retirees failed to show any basis for a vested right to continued pooling.

This case reaffirms the principle that a county sets compensation and benefits through its legislative body – the Board of Supervisors – and the Board expresses its intent itself through formal enactments such as resolutions.