Helena, MT – The Montana Supreme Court on Aug. 28 reversed a lower-court judge’s ruling that ordered the city of Billings to pay police officers $2.7 million for wrongfully withheld raises. Former state District Court Judge Nels Swandal had held in 2011 that the city had underpaid police for years by not calculating longevity pay by the formula set in its contract with the Montana Public Employees Association’s Billings Police Unit, and last year, District Judge Brenda Gilbert ordered the city to pay the officers affected more than $930,000 in back wages and another $1.77 million in penalties and attorneys’ fees. But in a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the contract’s language was ambiguous enough so the city’s interpretation wasn’t unreasonable. The ruling will send the case back to District Court. Read more


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