Aguirre Loses Pension Suit Appeal

September 19, 2006 ( - A California state appellate court has turned away a request by San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre to overturn a decade's worth of controversial pension benefits without having a trial.

In turning to the 4 th District Court of Appeals, Aguirre was trying to overturn a lower court ruling, which indicated that there were too many disputed facts for a non-trial ruling in the city’s favor and that a trial should be held, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The city lawyer contends that increases in city employees’ pensions granted by the San Diego City Employees Retirement System should be pushed back because pension board members had an illegal conflict of interest. Some board members who voted on an underfunding plan were also city employees whose retirement benefits were enhanced.

The underfunding agreement is at the core of the system’s current deficit of $1.4 billion, and has led to months of political and financial turmoil in the city.

In July, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Barton ruled there were too many facts in dispute in the case in which Aguirre sought a pre-trial victory, and he could not rule at that time in favor of the city’s legal argument that the benefits were granted illegally. That trial is now slated to begin in October.

Also, Aguirre has announced a new legal action as part of his campaign against the pension benefits.   He said he plans to sue the city’s pension system in the next two weeks to halt a program that allows city employees to purchase up to five extra years of credited service or require employees to pay more for the credits they have already bought.