SUAA Mini Briefing
September 4, 2014
Court Strikes Discovery Dates in Anticipation of Ruling on Pension Clause Claims
In July, the Court had set discovery deadlines which included an August 29 date for the State to provide its six expert reports, an October 31 deadline for the Plaintiffs to provide their expert reports. Today the Court struck the October 31deadline instead indicating an inclination to address motions filed by the Plaintiffs groups.
On July 3, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a sweeping opinion reinstating the Kanerva case. SUAA filed several motions in that case in August including a Petition to intervene as a Plaintiff, a Motion for Judgment, a Motion for Injunctive Relief to stop the deductions for health care premiums, and a Motion for Class Certification so that the monies already taken from SURS members pursuant to Public Act 97-695 could be recovered. The Motion for Judgment specifically explained that the Pension Clause – both as applied to health care premiums, and as applied to pension benefits more generally – was not subject to the State’s “Reserved Sovereign Powers” defense.
In addition, SUAA filed a Motion to Strike the Affirmative Defense in the general pension litigation as a matter of law. (The remaining groups filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. As a technical matter that motion would have to assume that the State’s factual assertions are correct. As a result, SUAA did not sign that motion.)
The Court clearly read all of these motions, including the ones filed by SUAA and others in the Kanerva case. In an effort to streamline the case, the Court agreed to strike the deadlines for Plaintiffs to file their expert reports and instead focused on the State’s responses to the pending motions and the State’s own Motion for Summary Judgment. Rather than setting deadlines for the Plaintiffs to respond to the State’s filings, the Court set a status call for October 8, by which time it will have reviewed the materials filed by the State and will be in a position to hear from the Plaintiffs as to how much time is needed to file responsive papers.
Today’s comments by the Court are a strong indication that the Pension Reform Act is headed for defeat. The hard work that SUAA has put into this case is likely to pay considerable dividends. But we must not rest on our laurels. There remains considerable work to do even on this case. More importantly, we must remember that the battle for pension reform has just begun. We must be prepared for the battles to come as the State tries other ways to attack its obligations to the pension systems and their members.
Please consider contributing to the SUAA Legal Fund. Check out the SUAA website for details regarding the pension lawsuit along with how to make a contribution. You are welcome to pass this and all other information to your colleagues.
Linda L. Brookhart
State Universities Annuitants Association