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Friday, April 18, 2014

CNMI complies with terms of Johnson settlement

The CNMI government has complied with the terms of the settlement agreement in Betty Johnson’s class action, including the timely payment of $3.75 million in annual contributions for the first quarter of fiscal year 2014.

Assistant attorney general Reena J. Patel, counsel for the CNMI government, submitted Monday in the U.S. District Court for the NMI a report on the status of the Commonwealth’s compliance with the settlement agreement.

Patel cited that a section of the settlement requires the CNMI government to pay the settlement fund $25 million in fiscal year 2014. Another section, Patel said, states that 15 percent of the annual contribution must be made by the end of the first quarter. Therefore, she said, the CNMI government must pay at least $3.75 million in annual contributions by Dec. 31, 2013.

Patel disclosed that the CNMI government has made $3.75 million in incremental contributions to the settlement fund: $1.041 million on Nov. 1, 2013; $1 million on Dec. 2, 2013; $309,000 on Dec. 5, 2013; $250,000 on Dec. 18, 2013; $400,000 on Dec. 20, 2013; $400,000 on Dec. 27, 2013; and $350,000 on Dec. 30, 2013.

Patel also noted that a separate section of the settlement requires the CNMI government to remit employer contributions at the rate it was paying on Aug. 6, 2013. Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson’s records indicate that all employer contributions have been paid in full to date, she said.

Another section of the settlement requires the CNMI government to include all settlement class members in the same government health and life insurance plans as provided to current full time employees of the CNMI.

“Currently, the CNMI government offers a 50/50 premium share on the same insurance plans as the active employees,” Patel said.

The CNMI government, she said, makes semi-monthly payments to the Government Health and Life Insurance Fund after receiving an invoice letter from the GHLI administrator.

“Such premiums have been paid in full as of the date of this filing,” she said.

On the award issue, Patel said the government mailed a $7,500 check to Johnson as her service award on Nov. 22, 2013, and that the latter received it on Nov. 29

“As the transition process continues, the CNMI hopes to work with the parties to ensure timely compliance,” Patel said.

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