The California Supreme Court has sent four remaining cases concerning the so-called California rule back to the state Courts of Appeal.
The cases had been on hold pending the California Supreme Court’s decision in another case involving the $8.3 billion Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association, Oakland, Calif., $8.3 billion Contra Costa Employees’ Retirement Association, Concord, Calif., and $778 million Merced County Employees’ Retirement Association.
The court released its opinion in that case July 30, relaxing but not eliminating the rule that is used to determine the degree to which public employee pension plans for existing employees can be changed. The California rule stems from a series of state court decisions that have influenced the calculation of public pension benefits in California and nearly a dozen other states.
The court’s most recent action leaves its ruling in Alameda and another, much narrower 2019, opinion as its final words on the California rule.
Two of the cases will be fully reconsidered by the Courts of Appeal based on the Alameda decision, said Timothy K. Talbot, a principal at law firm Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver who represents the Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association, which was involved in the Alameda case, in an email.
One of the cases, McGlynn vs. State of California involving a judges’ pension plan, was dismissed by the California Supreme Court. The $411.5 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Sacramento, was also a defendant.
Though CalPERS was a named defendant in the case, the dispute was really between the plaintiffs and the state over the proper interpretation of a 2013 California pension reform law, said Matthew Jacob, CalPERS general counsel in a written statement. “Of course, CalPERS is always pleased when a case it is defending is dismissed,” he added.
Another case, the Marin Association of Public Employees vs. Marin County Employees' Retirement Association, challenging a new policy for calculating pension benefits that was based on the California pension reform law, was dismissed by an appellate court on Monday, said Gregg McLean Adam, partner in the law firm Messing, Adam & Jasmine, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs in that case.