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Botelho v. City of Pawtucket Sch. Dep't

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

January 13, 2016

Patricia Botelho et al.
v.
City of Pawtucket School Department et al

Page 173

Providence County Superior Court. (PC 08-7136). Associate Justice Sarah Taft-Carter.

For Plaintiffs: Carly B. Iafrate, Esq., Gerard P. Cobleigh, Esq.

For Defendants: Jon M. Anderson, Esq., Frank J. Milos, Jr., Esq., Stephen M. Robinson, Esq., Vicki J. Bejma, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

OPINION

Page 174

Paul A. Suttell, Chief Justice

The City of Pawtucket, its school department, and its school committee (collectively, defendants)[1] appeal from a grant of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs,[2] sixteen retirees from nonteaching union positions with the school department. The plaintiffs had sought reimbursement of the health insurance co-payments that they paid after the defendants allegedly breached a series of collective-bargaining agreements (CBAs). This case came before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issue raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After considering the parties' written and oral submissions and reviewing the record, we conclude that cause has not been shown and that this case may be decided without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we vacate the judgment of the Superior Court.

I

Facts and Travel

Each of the sixteen plaintiffs in this case was a member of Rhode Island Council 94, A.F.S.C.M.E., AFL-CIO, Local 1352 (union), and retired between 1999 and 2007 after having rendered at least fifteen years of service to the school department. At the time of each plaintiff's retirement, a CBA was in place between the union and the school committee. Because the sixteen plaintiffs retired over a period of eight years, they retired while four different CBAs were in effect.[3] The health insurance benefits were provided in Article 19, and these benefits did not change from one CBA to the next. Article 19.5 of each CBA stated, in its entirety:

" Upon retirement, an employee who has reached the age of fifty-eight (58) years

Page 175

or more, and has been a member of the Pawtucket School Department staff fifteen (15) years or more shall receive Family coverage under Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Delta Dental plans. This benefit shall extend until the ...

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