Judge dismisses claims by 259 Neenah teachers

Lawsuits dismissed because district can't be target of class-action suit, judge says

A Winnebago County judge dismissed a class-action lawsuit this week in which more than 250 Neenah teachers sought to recover more than $61 million in post-retirement benefits.

Judge Karen L. Seifert ruled Friday that a school district can’t be targeted by a class-action suit, The Post-Crescent Media reported.

Seifert said she would only consider claims filed by people who included itemized lists of the relief they sought. Of the 261 teachers named in the suit, only two had filed the required paperwork. Seifert dismissed the other 259 claims.

The remaining claims are by Bruce Moriarty, who’s seeking $257,000, and Robert Townsend, who is asking for nearly $206,000.

In February, the Neenah school board denied all 261 claims.

The teachers alleged that benefits they’d been promised were taken away without notice. They also said officials had used the lucrative benefits to justify paying them lower salaries.

The Neenah district scaled back its retirement plans under Act 10, which limits most public unions’ bargaining to base wage increases. The district’s move was part of an effort to avoid more than $100 million in costs over the next 25 years.

As a result of the changes, annual stipends and health insurance coverage that could have cost more than $300,000 per employee was reduced to $99,000 or less per person.