Justus v. Colorado Public Employee’s Retirement Association Pension Plan

To address economic conditions and projections demonstrating a severely underfunded plan, the Colorado General Assembly approved measured designed to protect present and future retirees by providing an adequately pension program. This appeal centered on changes made to the annual cost of living (COLA) that applied to increase each retiree's vested base retirement benefit. Plaintiffs in this case were retired public employees who contended that they had a contract with the State entitling each of them, upon retirement, to have their base pension benefit annually adjusted by the specific COLA formula in existence at the time they were eligible to retire, for the rest of their lives without change. The district court ruled they had no such contract right to an unchangeable COLA formula. The court of appeals disagreed, finding the retirees had a contract right to the formula in place at the time of eligibility for retirement or actual retirement based on the so-called "public policy exception," and remanded for further review to determine whether the legislature's act violated the Contract Clauses of the federal and state constitutions. The Colorado Supreme Court disagreed with the court of appeals, and agreed with the district court. The appellate court's judgment was reversed that the district court's judgment reinstated. View "Justus v. Colorado Public Employee's Retirement Association Pension Plan" on Justia Law