County of Orange Gets Federal Judge's Blessing to Restrict Retiree Benefits

The County of Orange has won another victory in its five-year legal war with retired government workers. Santa Ana-based U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford, in a ruling filed Monday, granted the county's Motion for Summary Judgment in Retired Employees Association of Orange County, Inc. v. County of Orange, which was originally filed in November 2007.

When the county decided to split the medical benefits pool for current and retired workers in 2007, the association sued, claiming those who retired as of Jan. 1, 2008, were entitled to the same pooling benefit for life.

The county, concluding the system essentially had current workers subsidizing the benefits of people who no longer contributed to the pool, countered state law does not guarantee lifetime pool status for anyone.

Guilford agreed, finding that "no contractual right to vested pooling exists" in the area of medical benefits for retirees, that there was "no legislative language expressing a continuing obligation to use the premium methodology" and that "there is no language indicating that pooling would be a 'continuing obligation.'"

Translation for county retirees: you get a whole lot of nothing.

You can read the ruling HERE.

You can read county Board of Supervisors Chairman John Mooloach's gloating reaction here:

"We appreciate the court's affirmation that the Board of Supervisors has full authority to establish the terms of compensation for its workforce and has the right to take actions needed to ensure rising benefit costs do not overwhelm the county's finances. The splitting of health insurance pools and other benefit changes significantly reduced the county's unfunded liabilities and were necessary and fiscally responsible actions."

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