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Friday, October 28, 2005

Your Mother Should Know

The answer to the following question. I've been asked fairly frequently why PERS members and retirees can't sue the old PERS Board for damages arising from their actions in 2000 that are causing so much pain today. The answer to this question is actually pretty straightforward. The City of Eugene case was filed under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA); it was not a simple civil case where issues of tort and negligence apply. The PERS Board's actions are governed by the APA and for that reason the members of the Board are insulated from personal responsibility for their acts so long as the acts are within the scope of their administrative mandate. The Board perpetrated no fraud, did not embezzle funds, and made their decisions in open meetings. Their only "crime", according to Judge Lipscomb was an "abuse of discretion" (bad judgement). (The APA also protects the current PERS Board from personal liability for their decision to enter into the settlement agreement with the City of Eugene plaintiffs. The Board can be charged under the APA with breach of fiduciary responsibility -- see the White case -- but individual members are held harmless).

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