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1st hearing on $75 million pension lawsuit by Hall employees set for March 1
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Hall County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Brad Rounds speaks about staying in the workforce due to not having the money needed to retire Jan. 13, 2017, during an interview at his Clermont home. Rounds and an expected group of 100 current and retired employees have filed an estimated $75 million lawsuit against the Hall County commission regarding an issue of frozen pension benefits. - photo by Erin O. Smith

The first hearing regarding the estimated $75 million class action lawsuit on Hall County employee pensions has been set for March 1.

The lawsuit claims the county “froze plaintiffs’ accrued pension benefits and failed to make the required annual employer contributions to plaintiffs’ individual retirement accounts” in 1998.

The expected class is more than 100 current and retired Hall County employees, the overwhelming majority being first responders.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Fulton County Superior Court by five current and former county employees, but it was later transferred to Hall County. Senior Judge Martha Christian was appointed to hear the case.

Plaintiff Bradford Rounds of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office said they planned on “filling the courtroom with employees.”

Pension lawsuit

What: First hearing regarding Hall County employee pension lawsuit

Where: Hall County Courthouse, Superior Court Courtroom No. 4, 225 Green St. SE, Gainesville

When: 10 a.m. March 1

The plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Kramer said the hearing is regarding competing motions about proceeding into discovery, the process to exchange and obtain information ahead of a potential trial.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia have filed motions to dismiss the case.

Kramer said discovery would allow them to take “depositions of the lead players in the county past and present who know some material facts about the pension plan and the changes that were made.”

“Contrary to plaintiffs’ assertions, the county’s pension plan in effect at the time the county adopted these changes expressly reserved its right to amend its pension plan. Plaintiffs, therefore, did not ever have an employment contract with the county promising them unchanged retirement benefits, and thus plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim should be dismissed,” according to the county’s motion to dismiss.

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