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Monday, July 21, 2008

Long Road Out Of Eden

We are finally back from our long drive to Southern Nevada. We managed a great trip without gambling a cent (OK, I did play a few slot machines and won a few bucks, but that was to pass a few minutes of idle time waiting for my daughter). We saw some spectacular scenery flying into the Grand Canyon and landing. I'll be posting some pictures soon. We also saw a bunch of great shows (Cirque De Soleil - Mystere, Blue Man Group, Jersey Boys, the Titanic Exhibit), had a great visit with my sister and her family, and my wife and daughter got a lot of shopping in.

While I was gone, Kay Bell won the first stage in her battle against PERS in open court. Kay was victorious on a claim that PERS gave her faulty information before she retired and at her retirement. The jury sided with Kay on a 12-0 verdict. PERS plans to appeal both the verdict and the fact that the case was allowed to get to trial in the first place. Many retirees have asked the obvious question: does Kay's victory have any benefits for others of us who also got "faulty" information from PERS prior and at retirement (and since)? The immediate answer is unknown since Kay's verdict has not been viewed by the Appelate Courts. More significantly, however, is the fact that Kay's victory was individual. It was filed using a completely different route than other class-oriented retiree cases. It also followed after Kay had exhausted all internal PERS mechanisms to appeal their decisions along the way. The gist of Kay's case follows loosely the lines of the "promissory estoppel" claims filed in Arken (which we lost), and in Strunk. Thus, while I'd like to believe that Kay's verdict will have positive implications for other retirees, I'm not entirely sold on the notion that it will. Kay's circumstances were quite different (see Peg's reports on PERS_Oregon_Discussion for the details), and the verdict quite individual. Moreover, what Kay was asking for was altogether different than what the PERS Coalition asked for in the Arken case, and what was posed in Strunk. In the meantime, all we can do is hope that Kay's verdict will be upheld in the higher courts. Kay's victory gives me hope, but I don't for a moment think that we will see any long term benefit from her case. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm having an extremely difficult time generalizing her case to those of us victimized by PERS' perfidy.

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