ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Community Calendar

Community Artists Program
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Charlestown

Toddler Time
11 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Carolina

RI Blood Drive
1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Westerly

Basic Computer Instruction
2 p.m. - 3 p.m. Charlestown

Yoga for Beginners
4 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Charlestown

Razzle Dazzle - A Musical Revue
8 p.m. - 10 p.m. Westerly

... View all of today's events


Stay Connected


ADVERTISEMENT


Rhode Island judge: Pension lawsuit may go forward


PROVIDENCE (AP) — A lawsuit brought by public sector unions and retirees over Rhode Island’s 2011 pension overhaul can now move forward, a judge ruled Wednesday, days after both sides said a lengthy mediation had failed.

Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter denied the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed before the closed-door mediation began more than a year ago.

Public-sector unions and retirees had sued over the law, which was designed to save Rhode Island $4 billion over the next 20 years by reining in pension costs. The law has been used as a model for other states.

Unions and retirees have argued that their pension benefits constituted an implied contract, while the state disputes that. Taft-Carter notes in her decision that unlike some other states, Rhode Island’s constitution and law do not explicitly state that public employees have a contractual right to their pension benefits.

But she writes that other factors support it being a contract, such as the fact workers have served the public for a required number of years and contributed a required percentage of their salaries to the pension system in return for pension benefits.

“A valid contract exists between plaintiffs and the state, entitling plaintiffs to their pension benefits,” she wrote.

Taft-Carter notes that her standard for reviewing the state’s motion to dismiss was not whether the lawsuit is likely to succeed, but rather to assume the allegations are true, and examine the facts in a light favorable to the unions and retirees.

The judge’s action was expected, and the state is preparing for trial, Faye Zuckerman, Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s spokeswoman, and Joy Fox, Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s spokeswoman, said in a joint statement.

“The state continues to believe that the pension changes enacted by our General Assembly are constitutional and that the state has strong legal arguments to support its positions,” they said.

Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for the lawyers representing unions and retirees, said they were pleased the court had recognized there was an implied contract.

“These retired workers lived up to their end of the deal by dutifully paying into a pension system that was promised to be there when they needed it,” he said.

A trial in the case has already been scheduled to start in September.



Back to State
Top Stories of the Week

Sale to undercover officer leads to drug charges for Westerly …
WESTERLY — A local man is facing charges after he allegedly sold heroin to undercover officers on two separate occasions recently, police said Tuesday. Mark … more ...

Pawcatuck thread mill damaged in blaze …
PAWCATUCK — Firefighters from seven fire companies, including the Mystic fire boat, battled a fire that broke out in the century-old Clark Thread Mill building … more ...

Police ID man who died after fall at quarry early …
WESTERLY — Police on Monday identified the man who died after falling more than 80 feet at the former Copar quarry in Bradford early Sunday … more ...

Chris Duhamel to resign presidency of Westerly Town Council …
WESTERLY — Christopher Duhamel said Tuesday that he plans to continue serving on the Town Council but will resign from his position as president, citing … more ...

Solvent-soaked rags cited as cause of blaze …
PAWCATUCK — Rags soaked with wood stain solvent used in a homeowner’s project were cited as the cause of a fire Saturday evening that destroyed … more ...

Comments