Court throws out lawsuit to gut deputy benefits

LOS ANGELES – Rejecting legal arguments by the County of Orange that Deputy Sheriff pension benefits in Orange County are unconstitutional, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Helen Bendix today threw out of court a lawsuit by the Orange County Board of Supervisors to overturn 3% at 50 pension benefits for Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (County of Orange v. AOCDS & Board of Retirement, Case #BC389758), two months before the case was scheduled to go to trial.

The County of Orange had filed the controversial lawsuit last February after three different outside law firms they had hired for legal counsel had each warned them they could not win such a case.  Meanwhile the Orange County Board of Supervisors, as of December 2008, have rung up almost $1.3 million in legal bills in their legal effort.

“The Deputy Sheriffs, their families, and especially those deputies who no longer work, are pleased — but not surprised — by the Court’s decision to throw out the County’s case,” said Wayne Quint, President of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS).  “The County spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting opinions from three different outside law firms that all predicted this outcome.  Now that they have spent over one million dollars of taxpayer money on this lawsuit, we only hope they will not lay off any more county probation officers to finance an appeal.”

Continued Quint, “To quote County Supervisor John Moorlach — who has been driving this Don Quixote type effort — in a speech he made in 2000 to the Orange County Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, ‘County agencies should become more accountable to taxpayers for the lawsuits they file.  …every time you hire an attorney, the only person who wins is the attorney.’  “Well – the county’s attorneys have made out like bandits in this case – almost $1.3 million so far, at a time the county is suffering a fiscal crisis.   It is unfortunate.”

  3 comments for “Court throws out lawsuit to gut deputy benefits

  1. Reggie
    February 26, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Do we have a running total of money wasted to date – redecorating the offices, cars for people who can buy their own car, etc? Any plans for a “Money Wasted and Jobs Lost” clock?

  2. mb
    February 26, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    The Moorlach quote betrays the hidden hypocrisy of “tort-reform” warriors. They seek to limit the people’s access to seek redress in the courts. For monied elites and their pocketed pols this would make them virtually unaccountable to those they harm. Privatizing govt functions by contracting services out to (inter)national firms further insulates govt from accountability. As a bonus it drains the county of economic activity that workers engage in locally. Gutting pensions increases worker insecurity and Leaders’ leverage. Waste, perks, and double parking spots are simple indicators of power differentials.
    Conservatives do not shrink govt. They loot it.

  3. WOW
    February 27, 2009 at 11:05 am

    This is just the county’s legal bill through 2008. Taxpayers will probably have to pay OCERS and AOCDS fees also.

    COUNTY OF ORANGE LEGAL COSTS
    FOR DEPUTY SHERIFF PENSION LITIGATION
    (through December 2008)*

    As of December 31, 2008, the County of Orange has spent a total of $1,291,442.70 in legal costs associated with the Board of Supervisors’ litigation effort regarding Orange County Deputy Sheriffs’ pensions (although the county has not yet released billings for Oct. 2008).

    Law Firm Amount Paid

    Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP $ 99,598.40
    (Jan. 1, 2006 to Dec. 1, 2007)

    Reish Luftman Reicher & Cohen $125,561.04
    (Jan. 1, 2007 to Dec. 1, 2007)

    Snell & Wilmer LLP $ 57,713.00
    (June 30, 2007 to Dec. 1, 2007)

    Kirkland & Ellis LLP $1,008,570.26
    (June 1, 2007 to December 31, 2008)
    ———————————————————————————
    TOTAL LITIGATION COSTS BY COUNTY $1,291,442.70

    Kirkland & Ellis Billings

    $ 138,461.10 (October 2007)
    $ 82,753.25 (November 2007)
    $ 60,004.56 (December 2007)
    $ 106,538.09 (January 2008)
    $ 38,202.72 (February 2008)
    $ 133,317.84 (March & April 2008)
    $ 65,123.57 (May 2008)
    $ 95,405.18 (June 2008)
    $ 61,424.67 (July 2008)
    $ 21,231.07 (August 2008)
    $ 52,559.88 (September 2008)
    (***Missing***) (October 2008)
    $ 72,609.49 (November 2008)
    $ 80,938.84 (December 2008)
    $1,008,570.26 (October 2007 – December 2008)

    * As per records provided by the County of Orange County Counsel’s office (Missing Oct. 2008)

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