SC Leaders Say Payment to Attorneys is $50M

May 24, 2006 ( - South Carolina state leaders say lawyers representing retirees who sued the state over contributions required for the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive (TERI) program are trying to collect $50 million in fees.

The Associated Press reports that an attorney that represented the state claims retirees’ attorneys are asking for “40% of all contributions that have been made and would have been made by all of the TERI employees.”

Earlier in the month the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state wrongly forced thousands of retirees who returned to work under the TERI program to pay contributions toward their pensions.   The high court ordered the state to refund the contributions, with interest, to employees who signed up for the program before July 1, 2005 (See SC High Court Orders Return of Contributions to Reemployed Retirees).

A spokesman for the state Budget and Control Board said the refund is estimated at $125 million, according to the AP. However, one attorney for the retirees, Cam Lewis, said the $125 million estimate is too high.“That’s the Retirement System and their scare tactics. But if they want to give it to us, we’ll accept it,” he said.

Lewis said the court has the final word on what their fee will be.