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A group calling itself the Coalition for Community Responsibility has filed suit against Missoula County, claiming the county violated the state Constitution when it enacted new domestic partner insurance benefits last month.

In their suit, plaintiffs Chris Jones and Tei Nash claim the county commissioners failed to give proper notice of meetings where the insurance changes were made.

"Had they (Jones and Nash) had the required notice, they would have opposed the passage (of) said benefits," their suit reads. That failure was especially important "on a matter of such importance and interest to members of the public, especially since it involves significant expenditures of money, it is a controversial issue and the legality of such insurance coverage has been brought into question by many citizens of Missoula County, as well as the courts of Montana."

County commissioners Bill Carey and Jean Curtiss adopted the insurance change April 3. It allows Missoula County employees to include their unmarried or same-sex domestic partners on the county's health insurance policy. Commissioner Barbara Evans was not present for the vote, but said she would have abstained if she was.

An answering machine at the phone number listed on the court documents accepted messages for the Coalition for Community Responsibility. An unsigned press release sent to the Missoulian called the insurance change "fundamentally predatory upon families and children. (sic)Financially, socially, psychologically and emotionally."

Curtiss said Thursday she had not seen the lawsuit yet, and that the county apparently had not been officially served it as of Thursday afternoon.

"They had requested some information, which we gave them," Curtiss said of Jones and Nash. "They also spoke against it at public comment time (after the policy was adopted). The next week, we had some folks come and speak in favor."

The suit is filed with Missoula District Court Judge Ed McLean. It asks for the commissioner's April 3 decision to be overturned and the policy change blocked.

The policy does not take effect until July 1.

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