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Friday, July 02, 2010

Another Brick in the Wall

At long last there is a schedule for the Oregon Court of Appeals hearing of the Arken and Robinson appeals.  These two cases will be heard back to back on August 6, 2010 at 9:30 in the Supreme Court building in Salem.  These two cases both harken back to the combination of the settlement agreement between the employers and PERS in the City of Eugene case (Arken), and to PERS' invoicing window retirees for alleged overpayments on 1999 earnings (Robinson).  The Arken case challenges the validity of the settlement agreement and alleges that the PERS Board did not exercise its fiduciary responsibility to members and retirees by entering into an agreement that harmed the very people who the PERS Board is charged to represent.  The Plaintiffs (PERS Coalition) were rebuffed by Judge Kantor in the Multnomah County Circuit Court.  The Robinson case alleges that PERS did not follow the statutory requirements of HB 2003 in attempting to collect money from retirees that HB 2003 did not give them permission to collect.  It alleges that only the employers were required to subsidize the "excess payments" and that retirees should not have been invoiced at all.  This case was also heard in Judge Kantor's court.  Judge Kantor ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs in this case and enjoined PERS from collecting any further amounts from retirees.

The Court of Appeals has allowed one hour for oral arguments in each case.  The only surprise was that they didn't join the cases to hear them simultaneously.  This means that they will, again, be ruled on separately.

This is, by no means, the end of the line for these cases.  Regardless of the outcome of the cases in the Court of Appeals, both will end up in the Supreme Court, and that path confirms my earlier guess that it will be at least 2012 before window retirees and others will gain any final resolution on these cases.  Both of these cases have been in the legal system for a very long time, and we still have two long years to go before seeing the end of the tunnel and the wall completed.

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