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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.

BACKGROUND

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. www.dannamckitrick.com  (314) 726-1000

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