San Diego Dismisses Former City Attorney’s Lawsuit

August 31, 2011 ( – Former San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre’s attempt to roll back benefits for city workers has ended with the dismissal of a long-standing lawsuit.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports current City Attorney Jan Goldsmith dismissed the lawsuit June 15 at the direction of the City Council after the state Supreme Court denied an appeal in an Orange County case challenging retroactive benefits for deputy sheriffs.  

The newspaper noted the lawsuit amassed headlines throughout Aguirre’s tenure based on his central legal argument that San Diego violated the state’s debt-limit laws by awarding retroactive pension benefits to its public employees in 1996 and 2002 without getting approval from voters. The case had been in limbo for four years since a Superior Court judge ruled against Aguirre and upheld the benefits (see Aguirre Loses Appeal to Eliminate City Pension Benefits).  

Aguirre, who lost his re-election bid to Goldsmith in 2008, described the dismissal as “the most expensive betrayal of the public by a city attorney ever in the history of the city,” according to the Union Tribune.  

In 2010, a California judge rejected a $177 million claim by the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System seeking payment from the city for the pension benefit increases granted in the 1996 and 2002 agreements that led to the underfunding of the retirement system (see SDCERS Loses Effort to Get More Pension Funding from City).