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No Cause To Reopen Officer’s Retirement Case

Alonzo Herran was employed as a City of Newark police officer for 15 years. His tenure was marked by multiple violations of the Newark Police Department’s rules and regulations and the rules of the Civil Service Commission. In 2012, the City filed disciplinary charges against Herran for allegedly striking a civilian with the butt of his gun while off duty and lying to superiors about his actions. In July…

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Disability Retirement Precludes Civil Service Appeal Of Discharge

Martin Deiro began working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1997 and was injured on duty in May 2012. He continued to work though October 2013, after which he had the first of two surgeries for the injury. He could not return to work after his first surgery and remained on leave. On May 1, 2015, Deiro applied to the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA)…

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Firefighter Receives Jail Time For Pension Fraud

Shane Streater, a Camden, New Jersey firefighter, applied for an accidental disability retirement pension in 2009 following two on-the-job accidents in 2007 and 2008. Streater submitted reports from two doctors, John Gaffney and Ralph Cataldo, in support of the application, and the Board of Trustees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System had Streater evaluated by a third doctor, Lawrence Barr. In February 2010, the Board denied Streater’s application…

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Contracts And Memoranda Of Understanding

In February 2017, the City of Brook Park, Ohio, passed an ordinance calling for the City to pay hospitalization and/or medical insurance benefits to a group of retired employees in an amount that equated to $100 per month. Lodge 17 of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents the City’s police officers, filed a grievance challenging the ordinance. The FOP claimed that the ordinance violated the terms of a…

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Federal Labor Law Does Not Apply To Cities, Counties

Stephen Klika, a member of the Tuckahoe Police Organization, retired as a sergeant from the Village of Tuckahoe Police Department. At the time Klika retired, Article 13 of the collective bargaining agreement between the Organization and the Village provided that the Village “shall pay the full cost of the individual or family health insurance premium cost in the Empire Plan … upon retirement for those employees hired on or…

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DROP Reform Does Not Violate Constitution

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is a public pension fund that provides comprehensive retirement, death, and disability benefits for approximately 9,300 active and retired City of Dallas police officers, firefighters, and their qualified dependents. Under the retirement plan, individuals become members of the pension system once they commence training at the police or firefighter academy. The member and the City contribute to the member’s account during the…

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Officer Forfeits Pension After Conviction For Obstruction

Michael Lalley was a police sergeant in Newark, New Jersey. In early 2010, he was approached by agents of the FBI seeking his cooperation with an investigation of fellow members of the Department. Lalley declined to cooperate in the investigation. Unbeknownst to him, during the same time period the FBI was also investigating his sexual relations with M.H., who was then 17 years old, and other minors Lalley encountered…

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LEOSA Does Not Require An Agency To Issue Retirees Identification

The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) allows “a qualified retired law enforcement officer who is carrying the identification required by the Act” to carry a concealed firearm, notwithstanding most state or local restrictions. Camille Burban was an officer with the Neptune Beach, Florida Police Department for more than ten years before she retired from service in 2013. In October 2016, she asked the Department to issue her the…

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Employer Required To Pay Retiree’s Medicare Supplement Premium

James Gallagher was employed as a police officer by the Town of Fairfield, Connecticut until October 9, 1986. On that date, the Fairfield Police and Fire Retirement Board approved his request for disability retirement benefits. Gallagher’s disability retirement at age 35 was the result of a serious injury he sustained during the course of his employment. On the date of his retirement, Gallagher was a member of the Fairfield…

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Officer Loses Pension On Conviction For Fraud

Joseph Deignan was a police officer with the Town of Watertown, Massachusetts. Under a Massachusetts statute, members of the state retirement system lose their pensions “after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position.” Under a series of cases, Massachusetts courts have ruled that for pension forfeiture to occur, there must be a direct link between the criminal offense and…

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DROP Benefits Can Be Prospectively Reduced

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (DROP) provides comprehensive retirement, death, and disability benefits for some 9,300 Dallas police officers, firefighters, pensioners, and qualified survivors. Officers and firefighters automatically become System members when they enter the training academy. While in active service, they and the City of Dallas contribute to their accounts. A member reaching retirement age can leave active service and begin drawing a monthly annuity based…

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California Supreme Court Ducks (For Now) Major Retirement Question But Allows End To ‘Air Time’

Employers and unions across California had been waiting anxiously for the California Supreme Court’s decision in a case involving Cal Fire Local 2881 of the IAFF. The Court was expected to address two issues – the “California Rule” and “air time.” The most important of the two issues was the continued viability of what has long been known as the California Rule. Under the California Rule, retirement benefits for…

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Not Unconstitutional To Deny Ex-Spouses Survivor Pensions

Gary and Karen Gausman were married in October 1991. After 22 years of marriage, Gary, an Erie, Pennsylvania police officer, filed for divorce from Karen. Gary and Karen subsequently entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), in which they agreed to equally share the marital portion of Gary’s pension by deferred distribution via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. The MSA further provided that “Karen shall be entitled…

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Sergeant Forfeits Retirement Upon Conviction Of Internet Sex Crime

In 2005, Brian O’Hare, a sergeant with the Massachusetts State Police, began communicating online with an individual whom he believed to be a 14-year-old boy. O’Hare used a family computer while off duty to communicate with the “youth,” who in fact was an undercover FBI agent. In February 2006, O’Hare was arrested by the FBI after arriving at a prearranged meeting place to meet the youth for sexual purposes….

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Emergency Manager Can Unilaterally Amend Pension Formula

Michigan is one of several states with “emergency financial manager” laws. Under the Michigan statute, an emergency manager has broad powers, essentially replaces a mayor and city council, and even has the authority to invalidate collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). AFSCME Local 3317 represent sergeants, lieutenants, and captains in the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. AFSCME was party to a collective bargaining agreement with Wayne County that was set to expire…

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Emergency Manager Can Alter Retiree Medical Benefits

Michigan is one of a few states with an “Emergency Financial Manager” law. Under the law, known as the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, when the finances of a Michigan municipality or public school system are in jeopardy, the governor has the ability to appoint an emergency manager. A Michigan emergency manager has sweeping authority, and assumes many of the powers historically thought reserved for city councils, mayors,…

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Employer Must Bargain Before Changing Past Practice Of Reimbursing For Medicare B Premiums

The Albany Police Officer’s Union represents police officers and some other employees working for the City of Albany, New York. Since the late 1980s, the City consistently reimbursed the Union’s active members for their Medicare Part B monthly premiums upon their retirement. In October 2008, the City sent a notice to all retirees of various changes to the City’s offered health plans. With regard to Medicare Part B reimbursements,…

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Longevity/Performance Pay Need Not Be Included In California Retirement Calculations

The Memorandum of Understanding between the County of Monterey, California and the Monterey County Deputy Sheriffs Association includes a longevity performance stipend that employees who achieved 20 years of service and a satisfactory or outstanding performance evaluation could receive an additional stipend of up to eight percent. CalPERS provides pension fund retirement services for employees of the County and the Sheriff’s Department. The County has never reported the longevity…

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Dallas DROP Plan Not Constitutionally Protected

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System provides comprehensive retirement, death, and disability benefits for approximately 9,300 Dallas police officers, firefighters, pensioners, and beneficiaries. Individuals automatically become members of the Pension System upon commencing training at a Dallas police or firefighter academy. Upon retirement, a member of the Pension System becomes a “pensioner,” which is defined in the Pension Plan as “a former member of the pension system who…

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Houston Required To Comply With Firefighters’ Retirement Plan

The pensions for retired Houston, Texas firefighters are administered by the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund. The Fund was created by a Texas statute, and is administered by a board of trustees. The role of the Board is to receive, manage, and disburse the Fund, hear and determine applications for benefits. The Act also prescribes standards regarding eligibility for retirement, disability, and death benefits and the amount of…

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Baltimore County Required To Pay $1.6 Million To Retirees For Health Benefits

In accordance with its charter, Baltimore County engages in collective bargaining with the exclusive representatives of various categories of its employees. Among those categories of employees are police officers below a certain rank, who are represented by Lodge 4 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). The negotiations result in an agreement that is called a “memorandum of understanding.” Under the County Charter, disputes with the representatives of certain…

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Retired Corrections Officers Gain Right To Carry Concealed Weapons

Four retired corrections officers sued the District of Columbia, alleging the District deprived them of their federal right under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) to carry a concealed weapon. The LEOSA creates that right, notwithstanding contrary state or local law, for active and retired “qualified law enforcement officers” who meet certain requirements. Those requirements include that the officer receive firearms training within the twelve months prior to…

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Court Changes California’s Law On Pension Reductions

In an immediately controversial decision, the California Court of Appeals has upheld measures taken by the Marin County retirement board to reduce the pension benefits of existing employees. Because the Court’s decision appears to fundamentally alter constitutional protections given pensions, it seems likely that the impacted employees will petition the California Supreme Court to weigh in. For years, the County’s pension board has included standby pay, administrative response pay,…

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Detective Not Required To Have Surgery

Patrizia Prew, who held the rank of detective after more than 15 years of service in the Providence Police Department, injured her right hand and wrist as she attempted to detain a juvenile following a disturbance outside his school. Thereafter, her status was “injured on duty,” and her doctor diagnosed her with post-traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome. Her physician recommended surgery, but, due to a fear of surgical complications, Prew…

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Wording Of Retiree Medical Benefits Clause May Be Critical

Litigation over the level of retiree medical benefits granted by a variety of labor contracts illustrates the care that needs to be taken with the crafting of contract language governing post-retirement medical insurance. The litigation involved the City of Sea Isle, New Jersey, which had labor agreements with an FOP lodge (covering rank-and-file officers), a PBA local (covering supervisors), and the Communications Workers of America (covering other City employees)….

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