Sonoma County Association of Retired Employees v Sonoma County

Sonoma County Association of Retired Employees v Sonoma County
United States District Court, Northern District of California 
Case No. C09-4432-CW

Settlement Status

On April 19, 2017, the Court granted final approval to the class action settlement. All class members began receiving the benefits and protections of the settlement automatically.

The Court-approved definition of the Settlement Class Members and the various benefits provided for in the settlement can be reviewed in the Notice of Class Action Settlement found in the Case Documents section below.

Case Overview

On September 22, 2009, Plaintiff Sonoma County Association of Retired Employees (“SCARE”) filed a complaint bringing various legal claims against Sonoma County (“the County”) related to the medical benefits of County retirees. SCARE is a non-profit membership organization of retirees from County employment and their family members.

The case arose out of the County’s reduction, beginning in 2009, of the amount that it paid for medical insurance premiums for its retired employees and their spouses, dependents, and surviving spouses.

The Third Amended Complaint, which sets forth the allegations in the case, can also be found in the Case Documents section.

After more than six years of active litigation, including an appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from the court’s initial dismissal of the case, the parties mediated the case in 2016 before a retired judge and engaged in extensive negotiations over the following months to reach a settlement agreement. After approval of the settlement agreement by SCARE’s membership and the County Board of Supervisors, the case was amended to add class action allegations

On April 18, 2017, the Court gave final approval to the class action Settlement Agreement. As a result of the settlement, the County has continued paying specified amounts toward class members health care insurance premiums. The County has also paid a total of $12,000,000 which has been allocated into Health Retirement Accounts for the class members. A further $250,000 has been held back from payment in case the County is assessed taxes for what is known as the “Cadillac Tax”, which may become payable with regards to certain high benefit health plans. This tax is currently frozen by Congress – but may be required to be paid in the future.

Case Documents


If you would like more information regarding this case, please contact Jeffrey Lewis via email or call us toll free at 800-776-6044.

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