COVINGTON – A man is suing the City of Slidell after receiving a notice that he can no longer participate in its health care plan, which paid 100 percent of the cost of healthcare coverage for himself and his family.

Dean Born filed suit against the City of Slidell in the 22nd Judicial District Court on July 25.

The plaintiff alleges that he was employed by the City of Slidell from April 30, 1984 to Aug. 1, 2008. During his 24-year employment, the suit claims, Born and his family were insured by the city’s health insurance plan. At the time of his retirement on Aug. 1, 2008, the plaintiff maintains that he met the requirements necessary to continue receiving health care provided by the city; and he elected to continue participating in the city’s health insurance.

The lawsuit claims that on Aug. 26, 2008, 25 days after Born’s retirement, the City of Slidell adopted Ordinance No. 3493, which states that city retirees, upon reaching age 65, must apply for Medicare parts A and B. Born had not yet reached the age of 65, so the city continued to enroll Born and his family under its 100 percent premium. However, the suit argues, prompted by Born’s upcoming 65th birthday, the City of Slidell sent Born a letter on May 1, 2013, alerting him that he could no longer participate in the city plan, and commanding him to enroll in Humana or be left without supplemental health care to Medicare.

According to the plaintiff, this constitutes as a “breach of contract” that deprives Born of “his vested right to a promised benefit.” Because the “contract” between Born and the City of Slidell at the time of his retirement stated that he was entitled to participate in the city’s health insurance, the suit argues that Slidell has attempted to deprive the plaintiff of a right that he is duly entitled to.

The suit references both the opinion of former Attorney General Charles C. Foti Jr., and the State of Louisiana Court of Appeal 1st Circuit, to further condemn the defendant’s actions. In 2007, the City of Slidell allegedly requested the Attorney General’s opinion as to whether or not an ordinance providing retirement benefits in effect at the time of an employee’s retirement operates as a contract. The suit claims that the Attorney General issued a response stating, “Once a benefit is earned, it cannot be impaired or reduced,” and that “the ordinance… that is in effect at the time of an employee’s retirement operates as a contract between the city and the retiree.” The petition then refers to a lawsuit filed by Alvin Singletary in 2009, in which the Court of Appeal 1st Circuit decided that city employees who retired prior to Aug. 26, 2008 are entitled to continued participation in the City of Slidell’s healthcare plan.

The plaintiff asserts that the City of Slidell, despite rulings from both the Attorney General and the Court of Appeals, has continued its efforts to breach the contract it made with Born. The suit asks the judge to grant a preliminary injunction against the defendant, claiming that Slidell may carry out its threat to remove Born from its health plan and leave him without supplemental health insurance. It also asks the judge to declare Ordinance No. 3493 inapplicable to Born, granting him his vested right to insurance provided by the City of Slidell.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought by the plaintiff for attorney’s fees, damages, and cost of proceedings.

The plaintiff is represented by Thomas H. Huval and Stefani W. Salles of the Covington-based firm Huval, Veazey, Felder and Reneger LLC.

The case has been assigned to Division F Judge Martin Coady.

Case no. 2013-13475.

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