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The Montana Supreme Court has overturned a judge's ruling that the City of Billings owes 27 current and former police officers $2.7 million in back pay, costs and penalties in a dispute over how longevity pay should be calculated.

District Judge Nels Swandal ruled in 2011 that the contract awarded longevity pay from the beginning of an officer's employment. The city and union officials said longevity pay was earned based on completed years of service.

The Billings Gazette reports that because the contracts could be interpreted both ways, the Supreme Court sent the case back to District Court for a trial to determine the parties' intent in the longevity pay portion of the contract.



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