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4 years and $566,000 later, lawsuit against county back where it started
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Attorney Michael Kramer makes arguments Thursday, March 1, 2018, to Judge Martha Christian in Hall County Superior Court during the first day of the hearing regarding the estimated $75 million class-action lawsuit on Hall County employee pensions. 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. - photo by Scott Rogers

In four years, the estimated $75 million class-action lawsuit concerning Hall County employees’ pensions has returned to where it started: Hall County Superior Court.

A group of Hall County employees first filed the lawsuit in January 2017, when they alleged their pension benefits were unlawfully frozen after a change in the plan more than two decades ago. 

Judge Martha Christian, presiding over the case after the Hall County judges recused themselves, ruled in favor of the county in November 2019, but a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling last year voided part of this decision.

After the Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear the case, it is back in the local courtroom to settle these issues.

Michael Kramer, part of the team representing the Hall County employees, said Christian initially asked for the sides to mediate the case. Kramer claimed the employees’ side agreed to mediation but the county’s attorneys requested to file supplemental briefs in the case.

When asked about mediation and other issues connected to the ongoing pension case, county spokeswoman Katie Crumley said the county would not comment on pending or potential litigation. Since the beginning of the case, the county has incurred $566,763.53 in legal fees, Crumley said.

The appellate court vacated part of the summary judgment ruling in favor of the county on the claims of breach of contract and impairment of contract. 

Christian ordered on July 15 that all parties file supplemental briefs addressing only the issues identified by the appellate court.

“The court does not want arguments using broad generalities but directs the parties to address each issue individually with specific citation and all applicable law supporting their position on each issue,” according to the order.

The parties will have until Aug. 16 to file their supplemental briefs and will have two weeks to respond to the opposing party.

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