The lawsuit Lisa Behrens vs. Mat-Su Borough (case number 3PA-18-01703 CI) has been settled. The jury trial scheduled to begin next week has been vacated from the Palmer Superior Court calendar.
NOTE: The MatsuMuckraker will post the settlement documents as soon as they are obtained from the Mat-Su Borough.
UPDATE: This case settled for $400,000. The MSB is paying Ms. Behrens that amount to settle all of her claims against the MSB (and the two other defendants – John Moosey and Otto Feather). Still working on getting the documents from the MSB. However, the $400,000 figure and the details of the settlement were in a Motion filed by the Plaintiff in the case in late March.
There were several Motions for Partial Summary Judgment filed by the parties in the Behrens’ case last year. I do not have the newest order (which granted in part and denied in part the MSB’s newest motion)…but below is a copy of an order from last fall which focused on the topic of Ms. Behren’s PERS claim.
The Palmer Superior Court denied the Mat-Su Borough’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Lisa Behrens’ PERS claim. Ms. Behrens claimed that she was owed upwards of $300,000 in PERS retirement benefits. This was just one of her numerous claims against the MSB in her wrongful termination lawsuit. The MSB argued that her PERS claim was time-barred, but the judge sided with Ms. Behrens and ruled that her claim did not ripen until her death or retirement so she could still make it.
Note that the MSB settled a federal lawsuit a few years ago with nine first responders – Richey vs. MSB – on the very same issue. In that case, the U.S. Federal District Court ruled that all borough employees who consistently worked an annual average in excess of 15 hours a week qualified for PERS benefits and should have been enrolled in the program. The MSB failed to so enroll them.
The PERS ruling in Ms. Behrens’ case as well as the ruling in the Richey case beg the questions: What is the Mat-Su Borough’s exposure with regard to similar PERS claims? How many First Responders or other part-time MSB employees have potential claims against the MSB that they haven’t yet filed? Are the Manager and the MSB Attorneys accurately conveying this important financial liability information to the Assembly?