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California Briefing / Santa Ana

County to pursue pension lawsuit

August 26, 2009|Tami Abdollah

Orange County supervisors voted in closed session Tuesday to appeal a judge's rejection of a roughly 2-year-old lawsuit against the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs that seeks to roll back increased pension plans approved in 2001.

In July, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Helen Bendix rejected the county's argument that the pension deals violated state constitutional limits on deficit spending and were a gift of public funds because the retirement benefits were granted retroactively. It was the second time Bendix rejected the county's suit. Agencies across the state are watching the case because it could affect their pension plans.

Supervisor Janet Nguyen was the lone vote against the appeal, which she called a gamble. But Supervisor John Moorlach, a major proponent of the suit, said it's important to see the case through because of its ultimate potential cost savings. He said the county's unfunded liability is currently more than $3 billion.

As of June 30, the county has spent nearly $2 million in taxpayer money on the legal fight, according to county records provided to the union.

-- Tami Abdollah

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