Weyerhaeuser Company Limited v. Lorne K. Lacey, et al.

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Contracts - Employment law.


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Contracts – Employment – Whether a revised legal standard, and if so which standard, should be adopted to determine if group health benefits have vested for the lifetime of retirees and their surviving spouses – Principle of inter-generational equity – Principle of stare decisis – Whether mutual intent of contracting parties must be clearly established to vest group health benefits for the lifetime of retirees and their surviving spouses

The respondents are retired salaried employees of the applicant or its predecessor. Their retirement benefits plans include health benefits. The health benefits included continued payment by the employer of B.C. Medical Services Plan premiums and extended health insurance paid for in full by the employer. On January 1, 2010, the applicant unilaterally reduced its contribution for retirement health benefits to a fixed amount equal to 50% of the 2010 costs of the benefits. The respondents became responsible for any remaining costs and any cost increases. The applicant stated that it was doing so in order to sustain the viability and affordability of its retirement benefit plans. The respondents originally claimed damages and declaratory relief but, by trial, they only claimed general damages for breach of contract.