Feb. 20--A legal dispute between Oxnard and a retired employee over the city's private pension plan has been settled for $125,000.
Suzanne Quitoriano, who worked for Oxnard for about 19 years in all, filed suit in 2012 over changes made to a supplemental retirement program. Changes made to the plan deprived her of benefits worth more than $500 a month for life, the suit alleged.
The city denied any liability in the settlement agreement. No attorney's fees were awarded, only the flat sum.
The supplemental benefit is provided by private firm Public Agency Retirement Services, or PARS. It provides additional benefits beyond the city's main program through the California Public Employees' Retirement System, known as CalPERS. It is designed for so-called "non-safety" workers -- those who are not sworn police or fire personnel, who earn higher CalPERS pensions than non-sworn city workers. For example, the PARS program allows non-safety employees to earn up to 90 percent of their salary after 30 years service. Through CalPERS alone, non-safety workers could earn 60 percent of salary after 30 years.
Quitoriano's case was based on a midcareer break, when she took a decade off to raise children before retiring in 2009.
Under CalPERS, her entire 19 years of service counted toward her pension.
When the City Council adopted the PARS program in 2003, service time was defined as "the total credited CalPERS" amount, plan documents show.
Quitoriano's case challenged wording added in 2010 that said workers who left and were rehired earned PARS credit only from their rehire date.
The city has not said how many other employees may have been affected by changes in the PARS plan wording, but none has so far taken legal action.
David Ring, Quitoriano's lawyer, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. Ring works for Bamieh & Erickson PLC, the law firm that represents The Star on First Amendment issues.
Separately, two other Oxnard workers, also clients of Ring, settled harassment suits against Human Resources Director Michelle Tellez previously reported on in The Star. Maria Martinez last year was awarded $40,000, and Marie Taylor-Briggs received purchased CalPERS credits known as "airtime," valued between $86,490 to $90,000, that would add $559 a month to her CalPERS pension, according to settlement agreements provided by the city. Taylor-Briggs also received $6,000 for attorney fees and temporary monthly payments of $2,525, for three to six months, until her pension payments kicked in.
(c)2014 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)
Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at www.vcstar.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services