Judge allows pension lawsuit to proceed - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Judge allows pension lawsuit to proceed

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By: Dee DeQuattro

Email: ddequattro@abc6.com

Twitter: @deedequattro

The lawsuit over the pension reform overhaul will go forward.

On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter rejected a motion by the State of Rhode Island to dismiss the matter.

The judge held that there was a valid contract including a bargained-for-exchange that was supported by consideration and therefore the retirees have an implied contractual right to the benefits initially promised by the state.

As the case proceeds, the state must convince the judge that there was a valid financial reason for the state to break the contract with the retirees.

"We are pleased the Court has once again recognized the implied contract and ruled that there is sufficient reason for the lawsuit to continue. 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. The changes made to the state pension system were undeniably an unconstitutional impairment of a contractual right, and we look forward to making that argument as the litigation moves forward," said Ray Sullivan, plaintiffs' spokesperson.

In November 2011, the General Assembly passed the pension overhaul plan to save the state roughly $4 billion dollars. The coalition of state and municipal retiree groups sued the state as a result.

The judge sent the matter to arbitration and a settlement deal was reached in February 2014, however, after a vote it was revealed that not all the retiree groups were on board and the matter was ordered back to arbitration.

Last week, settlement talks broke down and a trial date was set for Sept. 15.

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