Court Certifies Lambda Legal Arizona Benefits Case as Class Action: Lawsuit Now Covers All Lesbian and Gay State Employees
(Phoenix, December 24, 2013) - The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona yesterday certified as a class action Lambda Legal's lawsuit on behalf of lesbian and gay Arizona state employees fighting a move by the Arizona Legislature to eliminate health care coverage for their families. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli issued the following statement:
"We are pleased that the Court has certified this case as a class action, and appreciate that the State of Arizona supported this petition. With this certification, all lesbian and gay state employees who are currently or will become eligible for family health coverage for a committed same-sex partner or their partner's dependents have become part of the fight against the State's discriminatory effort to strip them of their vital family health insurance coverage."
Lambda Legal represents five lesbian and gay state employees - including from the State Department of Game and Fish and state universities - who are challenging a move by the Arizona Legislature to eliminate the equal health care coverage that they rely on to safeguard their families' health.
The equal health coverage plan had been put in place in 2008 under former Governor Janet Napolitano. Arizona lawmakers subsequently eliminated health coverage for domestic partners of state employees while retaining access to spousal benefits for heterosexual workers in a budget deal signed by Governor Jan Brewer in 2009.
U.S. District Court Judge John W. Sedwick in July 2010 granted Lambda Legal's request for a preliminary injunction to maintain domestic partner coverage for lesbian and gay Arizona State employees while the case proceeded in court. The judge also denied a motion to dismiss the case by Arizona State officials, ordering that the case proceed on the merits of the plaintiffs' equal protection claim. Arizona State officials then appealed the injunction to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which maintained the injunction and denied a subsequent motion seeking an en banc rehearing. The State then filed a petition for certiorari seeking Supreme Court review, which was denied in June 2013.
Joining Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli as co-counsel on the lawsuit are Daniel C. Barr, Kirstin T. Eidenbach and Jerica L. Peters of the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP.
The case is Diaz (formerly Collins) v. Brewer.