San Diego Settles 12-Year-Old Pension Lawsuit


San Diego has settled a long-running lawsuit claiming that the city’s pension rules discriminate against single people.

The City Council approved the settlement, which will see the city pay $68,000, on Tuesday.

More on the suit from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The litigation, which has spanned two federal lawsuits and one at the state level, claims that the city subsidizes pension benefits for married employees by providing a spousal pension benefit without forcing workers to contribute enough to cover that benefit.

Under the spousal benefit program, when a retired city employee dies their spouse receives half of the employee’s pension until the spouse dies.

The suits were filed on behalf of Janet Wood, a single woman and a 32-year city employee. She claims the spousal benefit discriminates against single people because it’s a subsidy she isn’t eligible for.


[Joe] Cordileone, the chief deputy city attorney, said in a news release this week: “Had the claim prevailed, the damages would have included an annual increase of $1.5 million to $3.5 million in the city’s required contribution. The city also would have had to contribute an additional payment for each person who retired unmarried from the city after 1998.”

While the potential damages were never tallied, Cordileone said they “easily could have been tens of millions of dollars” and that they would certainly have been “in excess of $30 million.”

Joe Cordileone, the chief deputy city attorney, called the settlement a “grand slam home run” for the city.


Photo by Joe Gratz via Flickr CC License