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Dublanica v. Ridgefield Board of Education

April 3, 2008

JOHN DUBLANICA, MARCELLA GLEIE, AND JOSEPH J. COSTELLO, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
RIDGEFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, General Equity Part, Bergen County, Docket No. C-28-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 25, 2008

Before Judges S. L. Reisner and Gilroy.

Defendant Ridgefield Board of Education (Board) appeals from the March 26, 2007, order of the Chancery Division, General Equity Part, which, following a bench trial, entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs John Dublanica, Marcella Gleie, and Joseph J. Costello. The order directed that the Board provide plaintiffs with long-term care insurance, family dental insurance, and family vision insurance, pursuant to the terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (Agreement) dated August 18, 1999. The order also entered monetary judgments in favor of plaintiffs, for the cost of insurance premiums paid by plaintiffs for their insurance coverages, following the Board's termination of payment of those premiums. We affirm.

I.

Plaintiff John Dublanica had been employed by the Board for fourteen-and-one-half years and had retired as an assistant principal in December 2001. Marcella Gleie had been employed by the Board for thirty-three years and had retired as a high school principal in September 2002. Joseph Costello had been employed by the Board for forty-one years and had retired as a business administrator in August 1999. Prior to their retirement, Dublanica and Gleie were members of the Association. Although Costello was not a member of the Association, the parties acknowledged that he was to receive the same benefits as had been granted to members of the Association, unless otherwise provided for or excluded by the Agreement.

On August 18, 1999, the Board and the Association entered into the Agreement, retroactive to July 1, 1998, and effective through June 30, 2000. The Agreement provided that the Board would pay the premiums for plaintiffs' long-term care, family vision, and family dental insurance for plaintiffs' natural lives. Specifically, the Agreement provided the following in Article VII - Retirement:

A. Administrators covered by this contract who Retire From The School District will be entitled to have the following benefits continued for the duration of their natural life as long as the benefit being provided is available to be purchased by the Board of Education and as may be limited by law.

1. Health and sick benefits provided for in Article VI A.*fn1

2. Long term health care insurance provided for in Article VI L.

B. . . . .

C. Any benefits payable pursuant to Article VII A shall be subject to any limits provided for by law.

[(emphasis added).]

The Agreement, at Article VI, Paragraph A, provided in relevant part that "[f]amily dental plan payments [] [and] family optical plan payments will be paid by the Board of Education for all Administrators." Further, ...


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