County of Orange, Already Stung in Court Trying to Reverse Lucrative Pensions to Sheriff's Deputies, Agrees to Pay Union's $1.3 Million Legal Fees

Already stung by the California Supreme Court siding with deputies, who'd been granted the right to retire at age 50 with lifetime pensions that are 90 percent of their highest earned salaries, the county Board of Supervisors today announced it will pick up the law enforcement union's $1.3 million in legal fees to end the case.

It's been a day of settlements as the county also announced it also reached an agreement to pay the Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) $62,000 as a one-time payment and about $250,000 as the county's regular share of OCERS' administrative costs.

The County of Orange sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court in February 2008 to try to undo what a previous Board of Supervisors had done: grant the generous “3% @ 50” pension benefit to many county peace officers. Losing there, the county appealed to the state's highest court, which in April denied OC's petition for review.

Howard B. Wiener, a retired justice of the California Court of Appeal, mediated the agreement, which has the county paying the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs $1.3 million to cover all legal costs and fees associated with the litigation, thereby ending the case. That, of course, does not include the millions the county has spent to bring the lawsuit and appeals.

My colleague R. Scott Moxley wrote about the deputies' union chief Wayne Quint's huge legal victory here:

Quint must be over the moon with the latest development.

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