PERS Coalition Attorney
Here is the latest overview
of the PERS Coalition’s various legal challenges to PERS, most dating back in some
way or another to the 2003 legislative reforms.
was the Coalition’s challenge to the constitutionality of the 2003 legislation.
We prevailed on issues related to COLA and guarantees, but did not prevail on
the redirection of the 6 percent employee contribution or on issues relating to
actuarial tables. This case is fully concluded with the exception of the
question of attorney fees which is currently pending before the Oregon Supreme
Robertson. This was the federal court challenge to the
constitutionality of the 2003 legislation under the federal constitution. We
did not prevail on the issues that remained after resolution of the Strunk case and this matter is fully concluded.
City of Eugene. Also commonly referred to as the “Lipscomb case,”
this was Marion County Circuit Court Judge Paul Lipscomb’s trial court opinion
that set the stage for the 2003 legislation and had a very substantial impact
on that legislation. Ironically the Supreme Court later vacated the trial court
decision so the findings in this case no longer act as precedent. This case is
fully concluded including an award of attorney fees, which was paid to the
Coalition in partial reimbursement for fees incurred.
Henderson. The Henderson case raises the issue of whether federal court Judge Gus Solomon’s 1978
decree was violated by the PERS move to new actuarial tables. That case is back
before the U.S. Ninth Circuit and we don’t have an argument date at this
White. This case challenges the validity of the settlement
agreement that concluded the City of Eugene case. The lawsuit also challenges several of the
administrative actions taken as a result of that settlement agreement. This case
is pending before Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Henry Kantor. The
defendants have taken extraordinary steps to derail this case and to prevent us
from beginning the discovery process, which makes me believe that there is
substantial concern about this case. In any event we will begin taking
depositions in mid-August, which should give us a better sense of the facts
that surround the adoption of the settlement agreement and the prospects for
ultimately prevailing in this case.
is the class action suit on behalf of “window retirees” to challenge PERS’
current efforts to reallocate 1999 earnings and make collections from
individual retirees. We have scheduled a status conference and hearing on
various motions on Aug. 16 before Judge Kantor, which should help sort out the
exact status of the case.
Robinson. This is the case being handled by labor attorneys
Jim Coon and Gene Mechanic. This case also challenges PERS’ collection efforts,
arguing that they are inconsistent with the legislative mandate in Section
14(b) of the 2003 legislation. That case is also scheduled for a status
conference on Aug. 16, which should give us more information about the final
form of the order that the court will enter.
Bell. This is a test case to determine whether
individuals who have received incorrect advice from PERS that led to their
retirement can sue for damages. We are in the early stages of litigation and
anticipate that this will likely be resolved by summary judgment.
Murray. This case raises the issue of whether
administrative expenses can be charged to the PERS variable account in years
where there are no earnings. The case has been fully briefed in the Court of
Appeals but no argument date has been set.
Money match variable. We now have sufficient plaintiffs to commence the
legal challenge to the newly adopted money match variable calculation
methodology. We’re in the process of getting data from PERS for each of the
individuals to make certain that they were, indeed, adversely impacted by the
new money match variable calculation methodology. As soon as we’ve confirmed
that, we will be filing the case in Multnomah County.
Rate guaranty reserve. I am anticipating that there are a number of issues
that will be raised over the next several years about this reserve. These will
in general relate to the proper size of the reserve and how the reserve should
be distributed once it has exceeded that appropriate level of funding. The
initial Mercer actuarial analysis probably raised as many questions as it
answered. The status of this reserve has the potential to be the last major
source of disagreement as the system transitions from a money match system to a
full formula system.
Equal-to-or-better-than. With the passage of the new statute PERS should be
engaging in rulemaking and as well conducting new equal-to-or-better-than
tests. With the new testing approach it is my anticipation that many and
perhaps most of the small jurisdictions that remain outside the system may well
fail the new legislative test.