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Contract Law Appellate Court Opinion

by Oumano, Emily

 

AC42998 - Fiorillo v. Hartford (“This appeal and cross appeal have their origin in a breach of contract action commenced in 1999 by a group of retired Hartford firefighters (original plaintiffs) regarding their health insurance benefits. The parties reached a settlement agreement in 2003 in which the defendant, the city of Hartford, agreed to provide the original plaintiffs with a health benefits package that included medical, prescription drug, and dental benefits listed in a plan from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (Anthem). The agreement provides that this package would not change without the plaintiffs' written consent or a legislative mandate. The trial court, Cohn, J., incorporated this settlement agreement into its July 15, 2003 judgment. In 2017, the plaintiffs filed a motion for contempt, alleging that the defendant had violated the court's judgment by replacing and/or changing the health benefits package administered by Anthem to a Cigna administered health insurance plan and by altering the prescription drug plan. The plaintiffs alleged that these changes occurred without their written consent.

On January 24, 2019, the court determined that the defendant had violated the 2003 judgment by changing the health insurance plan administrator from Anthem to Cigna and the prescription drug plan administrator from Anthem to CVS. In its May 14, 2019 order, the court found, however, that the defendant was not in contempt because the evidence demonstrated that all of the insurance claims of the plaintiffs made under the Cigna plan had been paid in a manner identical to the Anthem plan and, therefore, that the defendant had not wilfully violated the 2003 judgment. The plaintiffs appealed and the defendant cross appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that the court (1) improperly denied their motion for contempt and (2) effectively amended the 2003 judgment by incorporating the protocols submitted by the defendant. In its cross appeal, the defendant contends that the court incorrectly determined that it violated the 2003 judgment. We agree with the claim raised in the defendant's cross appeal and conclude that the court incorrectly determined that it violated the 2003 agreement. In the absence of a violation of the settlement agreement, there was no basis for a finding of contempt. As a result of this conclusion, we need not address the claims raised in the plaintiffs' appeal, and affirm the judgment denying the motion for contempt.”)