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Workers win argument over granting retirement healthcare to spouses after post-retirement wedding

Shelby Township attempted to deny health insurance coverage to the wives of several retirees, by re-defining its obligation to provide coverage.  The Township relied upon a Michigan statute defining "spouse" in another context to unilaterally change its interpretation of the definition of a covered "spouse" in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The Township deemed the term "spouse" to include only spouses who were married to the retiree at the time the employee retired.

The Court of Appeals rejected this re-definition of "spouse" and deemed the Township's attempt to re-write its obligation illegal.  The Court ruled that the local judge who had ruled in favor of the Township had mis-applied the language of the statute: rather than defining eligibility, the phrase "at the time of retirement" referred to the date of payment.  The panel sent the case back to the trial judge with instruction to enter summary judgment in favor of the workers.

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