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Commission chairman: Judge to rule in favor of county over employees in pension lawsuit
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Judge Martha Christian listens to arguments Thursday, March 1, 2018, in Hall County Superior Court during the first hearing regarding the estimated $75 million class-action lawsuit on Hall County employee pensions. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hall County Commission Chairman Richard Higgins said Wednesday, July 17, he had received word from the county’s attorney that the judge was ruling in the county’s favor regarding an estimated $75 million pension lawsuit.

Higgins said by phone Wednesday the judge had “ruled in our favor” in a lawsuit brought by current and former Hall County employees.

Attorneys Ben Mathis and Ed Buckley did not immediately answer a call for comment.
Attorney Michael Kramer, who was representing the class of roughly 100 Hall County employees, said nothing has been officially released yet, and he declined to comment further.

The lawsuit was first filed in January 2017, which the attorneys said originally involved about 70 current employees and about 30 employees that retired after July 1, 2008. The majority are first responders. 

The change regarding the county pension plan happened in 1998, when plaintiffs claimed the county “froze plaintiffs’ accrued pension benefits and failed to make the required annual employer contributions to plaintiffs’ individual retirement accounts.”

At a May hearing, attorney Ed Buckley argued the employees were subject to a “bait and switch” when these plans changed.

“The bait and switch is, ‘Hey, you’re going to make a lot more money under the defined contribution plan. But, of course, you’re not going to be using our money.’ You’re going to be using your own, and only if you can afford to contribute to the defined contribution plan,” Buckley said.

At the same hearing, Mathis called the issue at hand a good faith attempt of a new plan thought at one time to be more fruitful for the retirees.

Richard Higgins
Richard Higgins
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