News & Announcements

Tobben Argues for Firefighter Disability Benefits in Joplin Pension Lawsuit Appeal

Daniel G. Tobben Attorney at Law

Daniel G. Tobben
Attorney at Law

Attorney Dan Tobben has argued before the Missouri Court of Appeals in Springfield in the case involving disability benefits for firefighters in Joplin. In Tom Robertson vs. the Police and Fireman’s Pension Fund, the court agreed that the city had incorrectly calculated disability pay for a city firefighter.  The trustees of the Joplin plan appealed the decision.

Tobben represented the firefighter, the International Association of Firefighters Local 2618, and three other firefighters with less than five years of service in the original lawsuit. Continue reading »

Tobben Interview on KMOX: St. Louis Firefighters’ Pension Appeal

Daniel G. Tobben Attorney at Law

Daniel G. Tobben
Attorney at Law

Attorney Dan Tobben, representing Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis (FRS), was interviewed recently on KMOX-AM by Kevin Killeen regarding the continuing battle of the pension fund against the City of St. Louis.

A court ruling earlier this year found that the city could change the plan, with stipulations. Those legal issues are the subject of an appeal and FRS has recently filed a 115-page brief in the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The City’s stated policy reason for reducing pensions was increased costs – and the squeeze on the City’s budget.

However, according to Tobben, the need to change the system came out of a time when the stock market that was in trouble, but that issue has now resolved itself.

“There is no doubt that they can pay pension bills, they would just rather use the money on other things,” Tobben said. “The FRS has had very good returns in the last three years and so the projections of how bad it was going to be now have not proven accurate.”

The appeal could be heard in spring or summer 2014.

Read more here … KMOX

Opinion: Dan Tobben on Joplin Pension Disability Issues

Daniel G. Tobben Attorney at Law

Daniel G. Tobben
Attorney at Law

The Joplin Globe ran a guest opinion column by Attorney Dan Tobben, representing Tom Robertson and members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2618, regarding the insurance policy proposal for public safety workers of Joplin and the appeal of the decision regarding their disability benefits.


Read Dan Tobben’s Special Guest Opinion article … The Joplin Globe

Read content of Dan Tobben’s opinion article: The Joplin Globe – opinion column by Dan Tobben, Attorney at Law

Read more on the insurance proposal … The Joplin Globe

Appeal: Respondents Brief for Robertson

Tobben Speaks Up on Joplin Pension Fund’s Insurance Proposal

Daniel G. Tobben Attorney at Law

Daniel G. Tobben
Attorney at Law

As the debate over benefits for disabled firefighters and police officers heads to the appellate court, the City of Joplin’s Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund ramped up its efforts to purchase disability insurance for the city’s public safety workers.

According to  The Joplin Globe, public safety worker’s were set to begin voting on December 9, 2013 until Friday, January 3, 2014 on a proposal to authorize the pension board to investigate purchasing disability insurance to use to pay benefits for workers injured on the job. The reasoning behind the effort is to fund the disability payouts the pension board says will be required under a recent court decision (see Tom Robertson vs. the Police and Fireman’s Pension Fund). The decision is currently under appeal by the pension board and scheduled to be heard on January 9, 2014 by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District. Attorney Dan Tobben is representing Robertson, a disabled firefighter, and members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2618 in the appeal. Continue reading »

Judge Issues Third Injunction Against City of St. Louis Plan to Revise Fire Fighters’ Pensions

As issued by Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis:

Extends Preliminary Injunction Indefinitely Postponing Implementation of Ordinances

St. Louis, MO – January 4, 2013 – Less than a day after a lawsuit was filed to stop the City of St. Louis from proceeding with its most recent pension ordinance, a judge has issued an injunction against the City. The injunction prevents the City from implementing its plan to replace the Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis with another amended, City-controlled retirement system, which was scheduled to go into effect Feb. 1, 2013. This is the third injunction entered against the City in the last year regarding its plan to replace or change FRS.

The injunction was issued without a hearing and was consented to by the City’s attorneys.

“We are pleased that this injunction was entered so quickly and that FRS will continue to operate in the interests of the City’s fire fighters as it has for the past 50 years,” said Dan Tobben, an attorney with Danna McKitrick, P.C., representing FRS.

In his ruling Thursday, Judge Robert Dierker extended an injunction he issued in August against two other City ordinances relating to the replacement of FRS. The City has conceded that portions of those ordinances were probably illegal, and tried to fix the problems with Board Bill 109, which also is now enjoined. Continue reading »

Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis Sues City over Its Firemen’s Retirement Plan

As issued by Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis:

Asks for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction During Litigation, Permanent Injunction on Changes to Existing Plan

St. Louis, MO – January 2, 2013 – After almost a year of hearings in the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen and the Missouri State Legislature, and following two trials resulting in preliminary injunctions being granted in favor of the Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis Board of Trustees (FRS), FRS has filed a lawsuit to stop the City of St. Louis from proceeding with its most recent pension ordinance, Board Bill 109, now known as Ordinance 69353.

In its 37-page petition, the FRS Trustees detail the flaws, contradictions, illegality and unconstitutionality of Board Bill 109, which the Board of Aldermen passed on Dec. 14, 2012.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction during litigation to prevent the amendment of city ordinance and any amendment to the existing pension plan, as well as to order the parties to continue to operate under the existing FRS plan during this litigation.

In addition, the lawsuit asks for a declaratory judgment that Board Bill 109 is illegal, unconstitutional, and that it fails to correct the multiple flaws pointed out by Judge Robert Dierker when he issued an injunction against enforcement of Board Bill 12.

FRS requests the court to declare Board Bill 109:

  • Void and invalid as being unconstitutional;
  • Violates Missouri Statutes;
  • Invalid; Board Bill 109 cannot go into effect as a matter of law because the cost study was not in compliance with state law;
  • Unconstitutionally impairs the contractual rights of fire fighters with more than 20 years of service, especially because it allows the City to limit or escape liability;
  • Unconstitutionally violates the contractual rights of fire fighters with less than 20 years of experience, and
  • Contrary to several Supreme Court decisions, including those in prior lawsuits between these parties.

In addition, the lawsuit warns of the potential of a “multiplicity” of new lawsuits should Board Bill 109 take effect.  This is, in part, due to the conflicts and confusion created by Board Bill 109; FRS also will have a different Board of Trustees, be structured in a different manner, and possibly have a different agenda.


Preliminary Injunction Against City for Fire Fighter Ordinances Awaiting Final Ruling

The prior lawsuit regarding Board Bill 11 and Board Bill 12, which was joined by Local 73 and St. Louis fire fighters, has revealed many problems with the City’s attempt to wrest control of FRS from the State of Missouri, which currently has jurisdiction of FRS and fire fighter retirement issues.   For example:

  • Ordinance 69183 removed the duty and authority of FRS Trustees to challenge City action relating to FRS and made those that do so civilly liable for costs,
  • Ordinance 69245 was designed to create a new Firemen’s Retirement Plan,
  • Ordinance 69149 invoked the City’s home rule charter as authority to eliminate its guarantee to pay benefits, changed the minimum age of fire fighters to receive benefits, and increased fire fighters’ contribution to their retirement from eight percent refundable to a nine percent non-refundable contribution.

Judge Dierker issued preliminary injunctions regarding Ordinances 69149 and 69245 (Board Bills 11 and 12), after which the City conceded that portions of those ordinances were illegal.

In an effort to address those portions of the ordinances, the City passed Board Bill 109, which reinstated the authority for FRS but froze the accrual of benefits except for the purpose of vesting.

FRS states that the attempt by Board Bill 109 to correct deficiencies in the prior ordinances has created new constitutional and legal violations (as noted above).

The court will set hearings regarding the restraining order and preliminary injunction sought by FRS and its Trustees.

# # #

About FRS:  Established on July 26, 1944 in accordance with Ordinance #43009, the Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis was created to provide a program of security for the welfare of St. Louis City firefighters and their families. On January 1, 1960, the System was revised through enabling legislation by the Missouri Legislature and then by the Board of Aldermen of the City of St. Louis to further ensure the continued security for all active fire fighters, retirees and their families.  The Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis provides retirement, disability, death and survivor benefits to nearly 2,000 active and retired participants and their beneficiaries. FRS supports its membership by maintaining a pension plan that will attract and retain firefighters.  It seeks to maximize investment returns by following a prudent investment policy.

About Danna McKitrick P.C.:  Located in St. Louis, Mo., Danna McKitrick, P.C. delivers legal representation to businesses (emerging to national), insurers, government-related entities, individuals and regarding public pension issues throughout the Midwest.  (314) 726-1000

Joplin Firefighters Pension Ruling: Judge Says Disabled Workers Entitled to Half-pay

A Jasper County circuit judge has issued his ruling in a lawsuit involving a disabled Joplin firefighter. Judge David Mouton has ruled that Joplin firefighters “are entitled to half-pay without a reduction from the city pension fund if they are disabled or killed in the line of duty,” according to The Joplin Globe.

Attorney Dan Tobben represented Tom Robertson, the disabled firefighter, as well as the firefighters union, Local 2618, International Association of Fire Fighters, which joined the lawsuit in December 2011.

At the hearing, held in May, neither side disputed the facts of the case involving Robertson’s disability; rather the dispute involved language within the pension itself regarding disability payments to workers who have not served a full 20 years of employment with the City of Joplin. Continue reading »

Tobben on Injunction Against City of St. Louis

Attorney Dan Tobben commented in the St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune on the injunction issued against the City of St. Louis recently regarding proposed changes to the Firemen’s Retirement System.

“It’s a win for the firefighters,” said Firemen’s Retirement System (FRS) attorney Dan Tobben. “[Judge Robert Dierker] ruled the proposed ordinance authorized by Board Bill 12 was illegal on a number of grounds and threw it out.”

Tobben is claiming the ruling as a “total victory” for FRS and the firefighters, “pointing out that Judge Dierker ruled that the basic [tenets] of the City’s new law were all invalid and unconstitutional,” according to the Labor Tribune.

Continue reading »

Dan Tobben on Passing of Ordinance to Cut St. Louis Firefighter Pension Benefits

Dan Tobben, attorney for the Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis, commented on the ordinance to cut pension benefits for the City of St. Louis firefighters passed on July 13, 2012 by the Board of Alderman.

For additional information on the issues related to firefighters’ pension reform, including the pleadings, click here.

Tobben Comments on Ruling: St. Louis Firefighters Can Sue to Stop Pension Reform by the City

A St. Louis judge has ruled that the Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis can sue the City of St. Louis to stop reform of the pension. The Board of Aldermen for the City of St. Louis has passed ordinances to reform the pension. Firefighters believe that the city does not have the legal right to make changes to the pension system under Missouri state law. Attorney Dan Tobben comments on the ruling:

For additional information on the issues related to firefighters’ pension reform, including the pleadings, click here.