Michigan Supreme court agrees on local suit against County Commission

LANSING — About eight years ago, Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeffrey Wright and other participants in a group plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), who they had paid health insurance premiums to, discovered part of those premiums had been refunded to the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, who put the money in the county general fund without informing the other plan participants.

The group then filed suit against the board for refusing to reimburse those funds which didn’t belong solely to the board, but to subscribers in the Drain Commission group as well as a third party, Genesee County Community Mental Health.

This led to a very complex legal case reviewing if, as the county claimed, governmental immunity applied or, as now retired Judge Jeffrey Neithercut opined, contract law applied. Both the appeals court and the Michigan Supreme Court agreed with Neithercut.

The complainants listed are Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeffrey Wright, Charter Township of Fenton, Dennis Bow, Karyn Miller, Bonnie Mathis, Paula Zelenko, Marilynn Hoffman, Larry Green, Jake LaFurgey, Ray Foust, David Guigear, Robert M. Palmer, Rick Caruso, William W. Kovl, Maxine Orr, Village of Goodrich, Village of Gaines, Village of Lennon, Charter Township of Mundy, Township of Argentine, Charter Township of Flint, Charter Township of Mt. Morris, Township of Gaines, and City of Flushing.

They and their attorney, Scott Fraim, will now wait for the case to go back to trial court on the claim of unjust enrichment if the opposing parties do not reach a settlement. The parties could be looking at reimbursement of funds allegedly worth more than $2.7 million.

They would have been eligible for much more but part of the refunds fall outside the statute of limitations. The case goes back to trial court for the claim of unjust enrichment, but no date was on file as of the writing of this article.