The Michigan Supreme Court says Kalkaska Village will have to pay nearly $200,000 to a former employee.
Former clerk Virginia Thomas sued when the village council stopped paying her health benefits in 2014. Thomas said a 20-year-old letter promised lifetime health benefits for her and three other employees. A jury and the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in Thomas’s favor, and the state Supreme Court upheld those rulings this week.
Attorney John DiGiacomo represents all four plaintiffs.
“I think it’s a great decision," says DiGiacomo, "I think they made the right decision, and I’m just glad that our client will now have health insurance, and not have to pay for it out of pocket.”
DiGiacomo says the ruling will likely apply to the three other cases, too.
“We’re asking that court to find that, because the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court have now ruled on this, that those rulings should be entered as a judgment in the subsequent cases,” he says.
Village officials say they will consult their attorney to see how to move forward.
“The court has ruled and we’ll decide what our options are," says Village President Jeff Seiting.
Seiting says the village council stands by its position that the health benefits could be legally stopped when a trust fund ran out of money.