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Georgia Supreme Court declines to hear Hall County’s $75 million pension case
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Hall County Superior Court fills to capacity Thursday, March 1, 2018, with current and retired Hall County employees for the first hearing regarding the estimated $75 million class-action lawsuit on Hall County employee pensions. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Georgia Supreme Court has declined to review the estimated $75 million pension case concerning Hall County employees. The plaintiffs and their attorneys hope the case will return to Hall County and be resolved either by a judgment in their favor or a jury trial.

The Georgia Supreme Court’s justices unanimously decided June 1 to not review the case, denying petitions from the county and the employees.

The Georgia Court of Appeals nullified in November part of a Hall County Superior Court judgment made in November 2019 favoring the county and remanded the case back to the Superior Court.

The lawsuit, filed more than four years ago, alleges the county unlawfully froze the contributions to the employees’ pension plans. 

“The court of appeals just could have affirmed the Superior Court if they thought that everything had been done properly,” the employees’ attorney Michael Kramer said. “We think that this is sending a message to Superior Court that plaintiffs’ rights were violated.”

Retired Hall County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Brad Rounds is one of the named plaintiffs with roughly 100 current or retired employees.

“Good things come to those who wait. I know that,” Rounds told The Times this week. “… Whenever the court of appeals ruled in our favor, that was a big win for this. It kind of put the fire back underneath everybody and brought their spirits up.”

The appellate court remanded the case to Hall County Superior Court for proceedings consistent with the appellate opinion and a recent Georgia Supreme Court decision made in a DeKalb County case. 

The Hall County summary judgment hearing in May 2019 was prior to an October 2019 Georgia Supreme Court decision involving former DeKalb County employees suing the school district and county board of education for “breaching an agreement to provide two years advance notice prior to suspending contributions to their DeKalb County Tax-Sheltered Annuity Plan.” 

The court ruled in October 2019 in favor of the teachers after hearing that case in May 2019, adding that the two-year notice was part of the employees’ contracts. 

Kramer said the next steps will be filing paperwork with the Superior Court to decide the issues or allow for a jury trial on any disputed evidence.

Attorney Ben Mathis, representing the county, did not return a request for comment Tuesday, June 8.