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Retired Judge Loses Suit Over Health Care, Sick DaysA unanimous New York appellate panel has dismissed a suit by a former town justice seeking pay for unused sick days and lifetime health benefits for himself and his wife. Donald Suttlehan alleges that a resolution requiring elected officials to pay 25 percent of the cost of a family medical plan after retiring was discriminatory.
2012-11-09 12:00:00 AM
A unanimous New York Appellate Division, Second Department, panel on Wednesday dismissed a suit by a former Orange County town justice seeking pay for unused sick days and lifetime health benefits for him and his wife. Retired New Windsor Town Justice Donald Suttlehan alleges the town agreed to pay the full cost of his medical care after he retired. In May 2009, less than three months before Suttlehan retired, the town passed a resolution requiring elected officials, including town judges, to pay 25 percent of the cost of a family medical plan after retiring. Suttlehan alleges the resolution was discriminatory.
The panel dismissed that claim, saying the resolution was not discriminatory because it "was not solely targeted at the judiciary, but was applicable to various elected officials," and that the resolution "did not violate any rights." The unsigned opinion affirmed a ruling by Orange County Justice Lewis Lubell.
Suttlehan also said he was entitled to pay for 397 unused sick days accrued over his 30-year career. The panel dismissed that claim too, saying that, under the First Department's 1992 decision in Grishman v. City of New York, 183 AD2d 464, 465, retired public employees are not entitled to accrued unused sick time unless explicitly provided by statute. That ruling reversed Lubell, who had refused to dismiss the claim.
The panel, which addressed the health care and sick day issues in two separate opinions, consisted of Justices Reinaldo Rivera, Cheryl Chambers, Sheri Roman and Robert Miller. The cases are Suttlehan v. Town of New Windsor, 10701/09, D36347 and D36348.