Thursday, March 5, 2015

Key Victory in Wisconsin Court of Appeals

March 2015
By: Alan E. Seneczko

Wessels Sherman attorney Alan Seneczko recently won a key victory for the City of New Berlin in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. In a published decision, Monreal v. City of New Berlin, 2014AP458 (Wis. App. 2015), the appellate court reviewed a claim filed by a retired New Berlin police officer who contended that he had a right to deductible-free health insurance for the rest of his life. The officer, who retired on a duty disability in 2010, argued that his future benefits should be established by the health insurance clause in the collective bargaining agreement in effect at the time of his retirement. That clause, “Sec. 5.02, Health Insurance,” detailed the specific benefits provided to officers under the agreement, including reimbursement of their in-network deductibles. After that contract expired, the City implemented a new “high deductible” plan for all of its officers, but Monreal claimed that he was entitled to reimbursement of all of his deductibles, as provided in the old agreement. When the City refused, he filed a complaint in circuit court – and the court agreed!

Arguing on behalf of the City, Seneczko contended that Monreal’s future health insurance benefits were indeed vested in the labor agreement in existence at the time of his retirement – but were governed by Section 5.03 of that agreement, “Insurance for Duty Related Disability Retirees,” which obligated the City to provide health insurance coverage in the future, but contained no commitment to reimburse deductibles. The Court of Appeals agreed, finding that the City had satisfied all of its obligations to Monreal under Section 5.03, and that the specific benefits provided under Section 5.02 were only intended for the duration of the agreement.

Achieving a great result for a great client is what makes this practice so rewarding.

Questions? Please contact WS Attorney Alan E. Seneczko at (262) 560-9696, or email