University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Erie County Retirees v. Erie County, PA EE-PA-0208
Docket / Court 1:98-cv-00272 ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On September 18, 1998, a class action complaint was filed in United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the Erie County Retirees' Association against the County of Erie, Pennsylvania. The plaintiff class in this action is composed of retirees who are aged 65 ... read more >
On September 18, 1998, a class action complaint was filed in United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the Erie County Retirees' Association against the County of Erie, Pennsylvania. The plaintiff class in this action is composed of retirees who are aged 65 or older- and thus eligible for Medicare - who remain eligible for retiree health coverage under restrictions made by the county. The complaint alleged that Erie County's retiree medical health insurance plan violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) by providing inferior health insurance coverage for those retirees who qualified for Medicare versus those who did not. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged the county violated the ADEA by discriminating against class members on account of their age in comparison with active employees and retirees under the age of 65.

On February 10, 1999, the Court (Judge Sean J. McLaughlin) certified the membership class and approved the form of notice to class members and consents to opt−in.

On September 30, 1999, the Court (Judge Sean J. McLaughlin) granted partial summary judgment for the defendant and denying partial summary judgment for the plaintiffs. The court ruled that the ADEA did not apply to retirees based on Medicare eligibility, but rather only for active employees.

On August 1, 2000, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the ruling of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and remanded the case. The Court of Appeals (Judge Morton I. Greenberg) ruled that appellants had established a claim under 29 U.S.C. S 623(a)(1) (ADEA) because they had been treated differently in their "compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of . . . age" and (2) that the safe harbor provided under 29 U.S.C.S 623(f)(2)(B)(i) is applicable if the County can meet the equal benefit or equal cost standard.

On April 16, 2001, on remand, the District Court (Judge Sean J. McLaughlin) granted partial summary judgment for the plaintiffs and denied partial summary judgment for the defendants - reversing his previous ruling. The court ruled that the retiree medical plan failed to meet the equal benefits or safe harbors under the ADEA and thus was discriminatory against the plaintiff class.

On March 20, 2002, Judge McLaughlin approved a proposed class settlement which required the county to pay $305,000 ($205,000 directly to the 114 class members) to cover the higher premiums they incurred under the old system. Additionally, the settlement provided that the new health insurance plan ensure cost equivalency between the two programs, so the county instituted a new system of charging the younger retirees HMO premiums similar to the Medicare premiums paid by the older retirees of the plaintiff class.

David Miller - 01/21/2011


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
General
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. ยงยง 621 et seq.
Defendant(s) County of Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie County Employees' Retirement Board
Plaintiff Description Erie Country retirees aged 65 or older, and thus eligible for Medicare, who remain eligible for the retiree health insurance coverage under County restrictions.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:98−cv−00272 (W.D. Pa.) 03/20/2002
EE-PA-0208-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion - USCA for the Third Circuit 08/01/2000 (220 F.3d 193)
EE-PA-0208-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Greenberg, Morton Ira (Third Circuit)
EE-PA-0208-0001
McKee, Theodore Alexander (Third Circuit)
EE-PA-0208-0001
McLaughlin, Sean J. (W.D. Pa.)
EE-PA-0208-9000
Shadur, Milton Irving (N.D. Ill.)
EE-PA-0208-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Pastore, Daniel J. (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0208-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cooper, John E. (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0208-9000
Kuhar, Mark J. (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0208-9000
Lanzillo, Richard A. (Pennsylvania)
EE-PA-0208-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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