NJ High Court Throws Out Complaint From Pension Trustees


A New Jersey Superior Court judge on Thursday tossed a complaint, filed by trustees of several major pension funds, seeking billions of dollars in damages from the state.

The suit, brought by trustees of the Public Employees’ Retirement System, the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund and the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, accused the state of underfunding pension systems and breaching its contract with workers during the process.

But a previous court ruling ultimately doomed their complaint.

More from NJ.com:

The state’s highest court in June found the state had no “legally binding, enforceable obligation” to make payments into the pension system of a state trooper’s union. The ruling had broad implications for a number of lawsuits filed by other public workers unions.

Among those suits was one filed by the trustees of three major pension funds — the Public Employees’ Retirement System, the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund and the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System — which earlier this summer amended their complaint in light of the Supreme Court ruling.

But finding the amended suit “seems like an end run around the Supreme Court’s decision,” Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson said Thursday the trustees’ case against the state was futile.

“To me, there’s no sense in going forward in this case,” Jacobson said following oral arguments at the Superior Court in Mercer County.

Here’s the argument the complaint was making, according to NJ.com:

[The suit] argued that the Supreme Court declared only the promise to make the appropriations unenforceable. The new argument hinges on a separate promise found elsewhere in the law.

“The promise to make the annual required contribution is separate and apart from the promise that the Legislature will make the necessary appropriations to satisfy those obligations,” the complaint said.

“It’s the difference between putting down your credit card and promising to pay the bank for the money that they’re lending you, and actually writing the check to pay the credit card company,” said Bennet Zurofsky, attorney for the trio of pension funds.

The Supreme Court held that the state can’t be forced to pay at a certain time and in a certain way, he added, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still owe the money.

The suit was seeking about $4 billion in damages.


Photo by Joe Gratz via Flickr CC License

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