Thursday, August 21, 2014

Update for Pension Lawsuit: Motion Filed Today, August 21st, in the Circuit Court for the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Sangamon County, Illinois



ISEA, RSEA, HEATON AND HARRISON PLAINTIFFS' JOINT MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AS TO THE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, TO STRIKE THE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE

“The plaintiffs in the ISEA, RSEA, Heaton and Harrison actions respectfully move for judgment on the pleadings on the affirmative defense pleaded by the defendants pursuant to section 2-615(e) of the Code of Civil Procedure or, in the alternative, to strike the affirmative defense pursuant to section 2-615(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure, stating as follows.

“In these consolidated actions, the plaintiffs assert that Public Act 98-599 (the ‘Act’), which diminishes and impairs- pension benefits, is unconstitutional and void because the Act violates the Pension Protection Clause found in article XIII, section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, among other constitutional infirmities.

“As an affirmative defense, the defendants assert that the Act's diminishment and impairment of pension benefits is justified as an exercise of the State's ‘reserved sovereign powers.’ Whether, as a matter of law, the defendants may rely on that affirmative defense to justify the Act's unconstitutional diminishment and impairment of pension benefits is the only issue that stands in the path of entry of judgment in the plaintiffs' favor.

“The Illinois Supreme Court's recent decision in Kanerva v. Weems, 2014 IL 115811 (opinion filed July 3, 2014)… confirms that the affirmative defense cannot be applied to the Pension Protection Clause as a matter of law. In short, Kanerva confirms case law precedent that holds that the Pension Protection Clause absolutely protects pension benefits from any unilateral diminishment and impairment by the State under any circumstance.

“Further, Kanerva continues a well-settled, long-standing line of precedent that a clear and unambiguous provision of the Illinois Constitution, such as the Pension Protection Clause, bars the legislature from taking any action that violates that provision.

“In an apparent attempt to cloud the absolute protection that the Pension Protection Clause affords members of the State's pension and retirement systems, the defendants insist on engaging in extensive and expensive fact and expert discovery concerning the fiscal condition of the State. But Kanerva confirms that whatever facts and opinions the defendants might be able to muster could not, as a matter of law, amount to any justification for the Act's unconstitutional diminishment and impairment of pension benefits.

“Those facts and opinions, even were they considered true, are legally irrelevant. For these reasons, as discussed more fully below, the plaintiffs in the aforementioned actions respectfully request that this Court follow the Illinois Supreme Court's lead in Kanerva and enter judgment in favor of the plaintiffs with respect to the affirmative defense or, in the alternative, strike the affirmative defense…

“Under Kanerva, it is clear that the Illinois Constitution protects pension and retirement benefits from the diminishments and impairments that the Act imposes, and that the plaintiffs are entitled to their benefits without any diminishment or impairment from the respective State retirement systems. The very purpose of the Pension Protection Clause was to constitutionally guarantee the payment of pension and retirement benefits, to remove from the General Assembly the power to impair or diminish those pension benefits, and to eliminate the very argument that the defendants raise by their affirmative defense. There can be no ‘reserved sovereign power’ to do something that the Illinois Constitution expressly prohibits.

“WHEREFORE, the plaintiffs in the ISEA, RSEA, Heaton and Harrison actions respectfully request that this Court award them judgment on the pleadings with respect to the affirmative defense, grant their motion for partial summary judgment, and award them all further and additional relief that the Court deems appropriate under the circumstances. In the alternative, the plaintiffs in the ISEA, RSEA, Heaton and Harrison actions respectfully request that this Court enter an order striking the affirmative defense with prejudice, grant their motion for partial summary judgment, and award them all further and additional relief that the Court deems appropriate under the circumstances.”

For the complete text for this Motion, Click Here.

From The IRTA:
This motion filed today in Sangamon County asks Judge Belz to make a summary judgment on the lawsuit in lieu of a trial due to the Illinois Supreme Court ruling on state employees' health insurance.


The following information is from a previous post on April 16th entitled: Illinois Senate Bill 1: Current Lawsuits Opposed to Breaking a Constitutional Contract with Public Employees



Current Lawsuits Opposed to Breaking a Constitutional Contract with Public Employees:

Illinois Retired Teachers Association
Illinois Association of School Administrators
Filed: December 27, 2013
Location: Cook County

Plaintiffs:
2 TRS annuitant teachers, 1 TRS annuitant administrator, and 5 TRS active administrators
—Seek to represent class of TRS actives and annuitants, who are not currently IEA or IFT members

Defendants:
Governor, Comptroller and TRS

Primary Claims:
COLA, minimum retirement age and pensionable salary cap changes violate Pension Clause of Illinois Constitution

Remedies:
Declaration law is unconstitutional, injunction stopping its implementation, monetary damages, preliminary injunction temporarily stopping implementation (protecting status quo)


Illinois State Employees Association Retirees (ISEAR)
Filed: January 2, 2014
Location: Sangamon County

Plaintiffs:
ISEAR, 2 SERS annuitant members, 1 GARS annuitant member, 1 TRS annuitant member, and 1 SURS annuitant member
—Seek  to represent class of all SERS; GARS; TRS and SURS annuitants; and subclass of State 2002 ERI annuitants, with 20 years of service and “not subject to a CBA”

Defendants:
Comptroller, Treasurer, SERS, GARS, TRS and SURS

Primary Claims:
COLA changes violate Pension, Contract and Equal Protection (by not including judges’ retirement system (JRS)) Clauses of Illinois Constitution
 
Remedies:
Declaration law is unconstitutional, injunction stopping its implementation, injunction reinstating prior law, escrow of difference between COLA calculations pending resolution of lawsuit


Retired State Employees Association (RSEA)
Filed: January 2, 2014
Location: Sangamon County

Plaintiffs:
RSEA (on behalf of all its members) and 4 SERS annuitant members
—Seek  to represent class of all SERS annuitants, survivors and inactive employees not yet receiving benefits, and subclass of State ERI annuitants

Defendants:
Governor, Comptroller, Treasurer and SERS

Primary Claims:
COLA changes violate Pension and Contract Clauses of Illinois Constitution

Remedies:
Declaration law is unconstitutional, injunction stopping its implementation, escrow of difference between COLA calculations pending resolution of lawsuit


We Are One Illinois Coalition (WAOI)
Filed: January 28, 2014
Location: Sangamon County

Plaintiffs:
WAOI, 5 TRS active teachers, 3 TRS annuitant teachers, 3 SURS active members, 3 SURS annuitant members, 9 SERS active members, and 2 SERS annuitant members
—Seek to represent class of actives and annuitants from TRS

SURS and SERS Defendants:
Governor, Comptroller, Treasurer, TRS, SURS and SERS

Primary Claims:
COLA, minimum retirement age and pensionable salary cap changes violate Pension, Contract and Takings Clauses of Illinois Constitution; failure to fund pension benefits provided under prior law violates Takings Clause of Illinois Constitution

Remedies:
Declaration law is unconstitutional, Declaration State must fund pension systems, injunction stopping its implementation, preliminary injunction protecting status quo (temporarily stopping implementation)


State Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA)
Filed: March 6, 2014
Location: Champaign County

Plaintiffs:
SUAA (on behalf of all its members), 6 SURS active members, 3 SURS annuitant members, and 1 SURS deceased annuitant member spouse

Defendants:
Governor, Comptroller, Treasurer and SURS

Primary Claims:
COLA, minimum retirement age, pensionable salary cap and interest rate for portable plan changes violate Pension, Contract and Takings Clauses of Illinois Constitution

Remedies:
Declaration law is unconstitutional, injunction stopping its implementation, injunction restoring prior benefits

On March 3, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court consolidated the first four lawsuits for proceedings in Sangamon County Circuit Court. On April 8, 2014, the fifth lawsuit, filed by the State Universities Annuitants Association on March 6, 2014, was consolidated with the other four.

A Commentary (and One of Many in “Pension Analyses” of this blog): Click Here.


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