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Mahon Successful In Suit Against City of Meriden

1/27/2005

MERIDEN A state Superior Court judge ruled this week three former police chiefs, a former deputy chief and two widows of former chiefs should receive lost pension benefits from the city, which owes them about $57,000 combined in lost pension benefits as of this July.

Retired police chiefs Robert E. Kosienski, George Caffrey and Amos Matteucci won their lawsuit to collect benefits and increase their pensions to reflect the salary of Police Chief William C. Abbatematteo, who was hired July 1, 2001. The lawsuit means each will be owed about $12,000 in lost pension benefits by July, and the three will receive about $3,000 more in their pensions, which should now be about $45,000 per year.

The suit's other plaintiffs are Lillian Custy, widow of retired Chief Raymond Custy; Theresa Magruder, widow of retired Chief Henry Magruder; and retired Deputy Chief Nelson Cossette. Cossette's pension will be increased by about $3,000 to about $39,000, and he will receive slightly less in lost benefits than the chiefs, since Deputy Police Chief Jeffry Cossette was not promoted until April 1, 2002. Nelson and Jeffry Cossette are not related.

The two widows are owed $6,000 in lost pension benefits by July 1, 2005. Their pensions will increase by $1,500. They will receive one-quarter the rate the police chief is paid, according to the court's decision.

The city and the plaintiffs disagreed over interpretations of state law on paying pensions to retired public safety employees. Judge Lois B. Tanzer ruled in favor of the plaintiffs interpretation that pensions should be based not on their salaries at the time they retired but on "the prevailing rate of pay" set by local officials "from time to time."

Exact figures were not available. Numbers could change slightly due to factoring in other benefits, such as vacation time, plaintiffs' attorney Brian T. Mahon said Thursday.

He spoke to Kosienski, Caffrey and Nelson Cossette by Thursday afternoon and characterized his clients' reactions as "extremely pleased."

"I felt all along this was the right thing, and I'm happy the court agreed with us," Mahon said.

Kosienski referred questions to Mahon.

The back benefits will be taken from the city's pension fund, according to Mahon.

Acting City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior said he would review the judgment with the city's Pension Board before determining if the city would appeal.

"From our point of view, this decision, regardless of its result, was something that is of assistance to us in interpreting a very ambiguous section of an older special state statute," Kendzior said. "To that extent, just having a decision, one way or another, has value to us. But we'll review this with the pension board and we'll make a decision."


12/7/2004
Mahon Elected Probate Judge
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More states stir against ease of 'no fault' divorce
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