Hall County filed a response Wednesday to the estimated $75 million class action pension lawsuit, claiming in its motion to dismiss that it had the authority to amend the plan.
Five current and former Hall County employees filed the lawsuit in January against the Hall County Board of Commissioners and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia regarding a 1998 change in pension benefits.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys claim there are more than 100 current and former Hall County employees being denied pension benefits after a freeze in accruals in February 1998.
County attorney Bill Blalock and associate counsel filed the county’s answer and accompanying motions Wednesday in Fulton County Superior Court.
“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 motion to dismiss.
At issue in the case are two resolutions adopted in February 1998 that froze accruals under the defined benefit plan and established a defined contribution plan.
“The ACCG’s Restated Defined Benefit Plan conferred onto the County the broad authority to amend its Defined Benefit Plan ‘at any time and from time to time’ not only to ensure continued compliance with the tax code, but also ‘in any other matter,’” according to the county’s motion to dismiss.
Bradford Rounds, one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said he and fellow employees are “hoping that we’ll still be able to come to some resolution.”
Attorneys representing the Hall County employees claimed the county allowed retirees between July 1998 and June 2008 to retire with benefits unaffected by the freeze.
In the motion to dismiss, the county’s attorneys argue the claims against the board should be dismissed as it is “not a legal entity capable of being sued.”
In addition, the county filed a motion to transfer the case to Hall County Superior Court.