Judge rejects motion to dismiss SD pension lawsuit

By City News Service

An effort to stop a lawsuit that would require San Diego city employees to contribute more to their pensions was rejected Friday.

The San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System sought to have the case - filed by San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith - dismissed, but Judge Joan Lewis denied the motion.

SDCERS officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Goldsmith sued SDCERS in May to force it to require its members to contribute more into the pension plan.

Goldsmith argued that under City Charter section 143, the city and its employees are “substantially equal” partners in funding the retirement system.

Lewis’ decision upholds Goldsmith’s legal position that the city isn’t obligated to fund the entire amount of San Diego’s $2 billion pension shortfall. It also rejects the argument that the court must defer to SDCERS’ interpretation of charter section 143.

The ruling does not change the amount city workers are currently paying into their pension plans, pending another hearing set for February, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Goldsmith said he was pleased the judge upheld his basic legal analysis, but said it was only the “first step” in the lawsuit and that the ultimate resolution should come at the bargaining table.

“I would urge the city, labor organizations and SDCERS to get together and work on a global resolution, ending all lawsuits, based upon a reasonable workout plan,” Goldsmith said.