Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Employer entitled to reimbursement of the cost of post-employment health insurance benefits it erroneously paid on behalf of a former employee


Employer entitled to reimbursement of the cost of post-employment health insurance benefits it erroneously paid on behalf of a former employee
2014 NY Slip Op 04203, Appellate Division, Second Department

In this action a former employee [Plaintiff] of a municipal entity [Municipality] filed a petition in the nature of mandamus to compel her former employer to provide her with post-employment health insurance benefits.

Supreme Court granted the Municipality’s motion summary judgment dismissing [1] Plaintiff’s petition for a writ of mandamus and [2] her action alleging breach of contract.

The court then granted the Municipality’s counterclaim for the reimbursement of the cost of health insurance coverage that it provided to Plaintiff since December 31, 2009, a sum in the amount of $19,866.57. The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court rulings, with costs.

The Appellate Division said that the Municipality had established its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law with respect to dismissing Plaintiff’s cause of action alleging breach of contract. The Court explaining that the municipality’s resolution providing employees of the employer with post-employment health insurance benefits was limited to “employees who are retired, eligible to retire, or have reached retirement age.”

The court said that the Municipality had established a prima facie case that Plaintiff was not a "retiree," as defined in the applicable regulations, 4 NYCRR 73.1[d], [e], [f]; 73.2[a][3][iv].  Plaintiff, on the other hand, said the court, failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether she was a retiree or the existence of any contractual right to the Municipality’s providing her with post-employment health insurance benefits.

Further, said the Appellate Division, citing Parkview Assoc. v City of New York, 71 NY2d 274, although the Municipality may have performed an act contrary to law or made an administrative error in commencing to pay post-employment health insurance benefits on behalf of Plaintiff, as a municipal entity:

1. The Municipality cannot be estopped from denying the existence of a contractual obligation to continue making those payments and

2. The Municipality cannot be held to have ratified any such contractual obligation.

As the Municipality had also made a prima facieshowing of its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on its counterclaim for reimbursement of the amount it erroneously paid for Petitioner’s post-employment health insurance coverage and Plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact, the Appellate Division ruled that the granting of summary judgment in favor of the Municipality on its counterclaim was also proper.

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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