Lockport Retirees Sue Over Health Care Changes

The City of Lockport, New York is in the fire law news again as 71 retired firefighters and police officers filed suit alleging that the city reduced their health coverage in violation of the terms of their retirements.

The city and the firefighters are locked in a protracted battle over staffing that has produced two lawsuits since May. A ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III last week lifted a restraining order against the city, clearing the way for a reduction of two firefighters per shift.

In their suit, the retirees claim that the city reduced their coverage and increased their out-of-pocket expenses. The changes began in 2009 when the city moved retirees out of traditional BlueCross BlueShield coverage into a health maintenance organization plan. In 2013 the city cut certain allowances and instituted a 20 percent co-payment on durable medical goods. This year, citing financial constraints, the city failed to fund retirees benefit/flex cards until February 10, 2014.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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