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Target faces possible class action lawsuit started by Tampa Bay couple

Shoppers come and go from a Target store in the Shoppes at Park Place, Pinellas Park. A former employee of an area store is pursuing a class action lawsuit against the retailer.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
Shoppers come and go from a Target store in the Shoppes at Park Place, Pinellas Park. A former employee of an area store is pursuing a class action lawsuit against the retailer. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published May 28

A Palm Harbor couple is pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Target, accusing the retailer of breaking federal laws that regulate employee benefits.

Shawn Rigney, 31, worked for Target until September of 2018. Rigney and his partner, Kyle Adams, 29, were covered by Target's health insurance. The notices Target sent to the men about the option to continue their health care following Rigney's termination lacked critical information that left them unable to retain coverage, according to the lawsuit.

"Not only did (Rigney and Adams) lose their insurance coverage," the lawsuit says, "during that time they incurred medical bills resulting in further economic injury."

Rather than give clear instructions, Target sent part of the legally required information in a "piece-meal fashion" over more than one piece of mail, according to the case filed on May 15.

By law, an employer that provided health benefits is required to send a COBRA — Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act — notice to inform former workers of their rights to continue their health care coverage.

"Notice is of enormous importance," the lawsuit says. "The COBRA notification requirement exists because employees are not expected to know instinctively of their right to continue their healthcare coverage."

The lawsuit accuses Target of breaking the law because its notice did not explain how to enroll or who contact, or have an address to mail payments. Nor did Target explain what would happen if payments were made late.

Ultimately the lawsuit argues Target's notice left the couple unable to make an informed decision about health coverage. It also says Rigney was left to pay out of pocket to see doctors for an injury he sustained while at work for Target. He now works as a Tampa Bay real estate agent.

It is unclear what job Rigney held and at which area store, though the case is filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

Rigney declined to comment. Target did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If Rigney and Adams' case is certified as a class-action lawsuit, other former employees who received the same type of notification would be able to join the complaint.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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