August 09, 2018 12:00 AM
“What’s going on with the PEEHIP lawsuit?” Not a day goes by that AEA doesn’t get that question. Fortunately, we now have something new to say in response. The Alabama Supreme Court has ordered oral arguments in our PEEHIP case, formally known as Remington v. Swindle. This means the Supreme Court wants to hear additional arguments from the attorneys on both sides and likely has questions about the case for which the justices want answers.
After an initial date was set by the Court for October, the lawyers for PEEHIP needed and requested a continuance. At press time, a new date and time had not been set, but AEA anticipates the argument being held on November 6 or 7, 2018. A new date should be set before the next Journal is published and we will have an update in that issue. We will also continue to send updates through social media.
Oral arguments are a BIG DEAL! Of the thousands of cases that are appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court each year, the Court only orders oral arguments in a handful of cases. The fact that the Court has done so in this case reflects that AEA’s lawsuit has merit and is worthy of careful consideration.
At this point, both sides will start preparing for the arguments, with the bulk of the effort coming in the weeks before the arguments themselves. That involves many hours of reading and rereading everything that has been filed in the case, researching the law, anticipating what the other side will argue, conducting mock arguments, and many other things. Have no doubt that AEA’s legal team will be ready to make a compelling argument on your behalf to the Court! In addition, we will be prepared to explain to the Court the financial hardship the illegal decision of rising insurance rates by PEEHIP has placed on Alabama educators.
AEA has been and remains prepared to work with the PEEHIP staff to find a reasonable solution to our lawsuit. AEA recognizes the financial hardship the premium increases have caused PEEHIP members and we are anxious to conclude this litigation as soon as possible. We are hopeful that the PEEHIP staff decides they want to bring this matter to closure before the scheduled oral arguments so AEA can resume a good working relationship with the PEEHIP staff.
Also, please remember what started this fight. The PEEHIP Board was convinced to hold a secret meeting so the staff could pressure them to vote for the increases – which is in all respects a vote to cut your pay. The staff knew that, in an open meeting, AEA staff would be there to fight on your behalf and present other options. However, there are some who believe your benefits are too generous and demand that PEEHIP take a part of every raise you receive. For many of you, the PEEHIP increase totally negated your pay raise. If we let this go, there is nothing to stop the PEEHIP staff from convening more secret meetings in the future to press for more cuts to your pay. The same law covers your local school boards, and none of us want them to have the ability to have secret meetings. That is what this case is about, despite what the PEEHIP staff would like you to believe.
As we have from the beginning, AEA will lead this fight, not just for our members, but for all public school educators.
With the start of the school year upon us, take the time to let your new colleagues know what AEA is doing and encourage them to join. The same is true for the non-members at your school. If you have a colleague who is a member of (or is selling) cut-rate liability insurance through another organization, ask them what that organization is doing about PEEHIP’s actions. The honest answer would be “nothing,” and we would love to hear if you are told anything else. As always, we will pass along information as soon as we can, including any developments toward settlement, and the Journal will have a full recap of the arguments before the Court.
AEA is grateful for the privilege of representing our members before the Alabama Supreme Court – thanks for your continued support!