The West Metro Fire Protection District has reached an agreement to pay 70 retired firefighters and their families $1.2 million to settle a class action lawsuit over retiree health benefits.
“This was never about the money involved”, said retired firefighter Tim O’Hayre, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “This was always about morals and ethics.”
The former firefighters had sued the district over about $1.8 million in a retiree health account believing the department mishandled the money. Many retirees had contributed a portion of their salaries to a department administered health insurance fund starting in 1996, believing the money would be used to defray medical insurance during their retirements.
But in 2015, the department decided it would not be able to fund retiree medical benefits terming them an “unfunded liability.” The department said if it continued funding retiree medical benefits it could potentially fall $15 million behind in funding and would have little money left to actually pay for firefighting operations.