Fort Worth officials pleased with federal action in suit over retirement fund

Posted Friday, Feb. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Topics: City Managers

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FORT WORTH -- A federal judge has sent litigation over Fort Worth's major changes to the municipal pension back to the state District Court where the city initiated it last fall.

U.S. District Judge John McBryde in Fort Worth ruled Tuesday that he found no federal jurisdiction in the case and no federal issue to resolve, following the city's arguments.

"Of course, we are disappointed in the judge's decision and, along with our legal counsel, are analyzing our options," said Ruth Ryerson, executive director of the Fort Worth Employee's Retirement Fund, which supported two police officers who sued to have the case heard in federal court.

City spokesman Bill Begley said, "We do not comment on pending litigation, but we will say that we are pleased with the federal court's decision and believe that the state court is the appropriate venue for this case."Sgt. Steve Hall, who is president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association and was one of the officers who sued, declined to comment.

On Oct. 4, the City Council approved significant benefit cuts to the city's pension, trying to close its fast-growing $748 million unfunded gap. The reductions affect general employees and police and are for future service, not benefits already accrued. But the police association contended that they amounted to an illegal cut under the Texas Constitution in vested benefits promised officers when they were hired.

Also Oct. 4, the city sued the retirement fund in state District Court in Fort Worth, seeking a judgment that the benefit cuts were legal.

On Nov. 19, Hall and officer Rick Van Houten filed the federal suit, alleging violations of the U.S. and Texas constitutions.

Scott Nishimura,

(817) 390-7808

Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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