CHARLESTON -— Three people and two organizations are suing West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency and its finance board over retirement benefits.

Ruth Ann Bowe, a former teacher; Judy Hale, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia; and Bob Brown, executive director of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association are suing PEIA and its finance board after its May 14 decision to eliminate the retiree subsidy without any public notice, according to a complaint filed Oct. 9 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Bowe, who worked as a teacher in West Virginia for 26 years, claims she left her full-time teaching position in 2001 to care for her elderly parents and mother-in-law but planned to return in the future.

As a result of the elimination of the healthcare subsidy for retires, PEIA and its finance board allegedly violated the West Virginia Constitution when it usurped the authority of the Legislature by unlawfully striping future retirees of any subsidy for PEIA coverage, according to the suit.

Bowe, Hale, Brown, the WVSSPA and the AFT-WV are suing for a preliminary and permanent injunction, a writ of mandamus and/or declaratory judgment; and for a declaratory judgment finding PEIA and its finance board's actions null and void and of no force finding PEIA and its finance board's actions violated the West Virginia Constitution, the Public Employees Insurance Act and the Open Governmental Proceedings Act.

Jeffrey G. Blaydes and Mark W. Carbone of Carbone & Blaydes and Robert M. Bastress Jr. are representing them.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Irene C. Berger.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-1904

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