Judge dismisses union pension lawsuit

A federal judge has dismissed a case brought by several state unions seeking to overturn the pension overhaul enacted last summer, according to a release from the state Policeman’s Benevolent Association.

The suit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds and did not rule on the actual merits of the case brought by the PBA, the New Jersey Education Association, the Communications Workers of America and other public employee unions.

“While we are disappointed with the decision, our resolve to continue this fight has never been stronger,” state PBA President Anthony Wieners said in a statement.

Among the portions of the bill the unions were seeking to overturn was the elimination of cost of living increases for retirees and other employees as well as the larger payments to the pension fund required of all current employees.

In dismissing the case Judge Anne Thompson cited the 11th Amendment, which grants sovereign immunity and bars suits against the state or its officers if the remedy requires payments by the state for past violations of the law.  

“After considering the arguments raised by both parties, the Court has determined that Plaintiffs‘ request for relief amounts to — both in substance and effect — a request for this Court to compel specific performance of a contract allegedly existing between Plaintiffs and the State of New Jersey or otherwise compel the state to abide by its obligations in its ― political capacity. Because claims such as this are barred by the Eleventh Amendment, Plaintiffs‘ Amended Complaint must be dismissed,” Thompson wrote.

The unions must now weigh whether to appeal the decision to the circuit court of appeals or refile the original suit in state court.

Judge dismisses union pension lawsuit