Under the Dome

State attempts to dismiss retirees’ health plan lawsuit fail

A lawsuit brought by state retirees against the state employee health plan in early 2012 is slowly making its way through the courts.

The state Supreme Court last week denied a request from state lawyers that it review a unanimous state Appeals Court decision that allows the lawsuit to move forward.

The suit will now move to a trial on its merits, said plaintiffs’ lawyer Christopher Whelchel.

I. Beverly Lake Jr., a former Supreme Court chief justice, was one of the original 27 retirees to sue the state health plan in April 2012, claiming that the state breached contracts when it dropped health insurance plans or changed premiums for plans in which they were enrolled.

One of the named plaintiffs has died since the suit was filed, said Whelchel. The suit asks for health insurance options to be restored to eligible retirees, which Whelchel put at about 175,000 people.

State lawyers have used a sovereign immunity defense in an effort to get the suit dismissed. The trial judge denied the motion in May 2013. The state appealed. An Appeals Court panel agreed unanimously with the trial judge in June 2014.