In her six-page ruling issued this week,
In a lawsuit filed last year against the county, Brooks argued that only the
"Perhaps the county could have adopted a supplement benefit plan that 'considered' or 'took into account' only the compensation for annual leave and education benefits, but it clearly chose not to do so," Cody wrote.
"I haven't had the opportunity to discuss it with Sheriff Brooks," he said. "I'm in the process of analyzing it and he and I will be discussing what further actions he may wish to take."
He said county officials applied the rule in the same way they had to the other elected department heads who qualified for the benefit. Former Auditor-Controllers
"We addressed it like we would any other application and applied the same rules we always have," Smith said. "We thought we were doing it correctly and we were glad the court agreed with it. It wasn't about Sheriff Brooks."
Brooks, 64, of
Brooks also claimed that even if the calculation turned out to be in the county's favor, he should be given the benefit because of misleading information. He said he based his decision to retire in 2011 and not seek a fourth term on repeated assurances from county officials that he would get the supplement. He said he only learned after stepping down that it was in question.
Brooks cited the principle of "equitable estoppel," which allows a party to be protected from harm because of another party's voluntary conduct.
But Cody found that Brooks had not presented sufficient facts to prove the claim and said it is not clear how he was injured. If he had known he would not receive the benefit, he presumably would not have retired and continued to earn more than he receives in retirement benefits but would have had to run for re-election to keep his position, she wrote.
"It is speculation to assume he would have been re-elected," she said.
She said the supplementary plan also precluded such a claim. The plan "clearly requires" application of the compensation limits to all income considered in computing the benefit, she said.
Brooks, who went to work for the county as a deputy sheriff in the early 1970s, still qualified for his regular pension because he joined the county retirement plan before
Brooks, who worked for the county for almost 40 years, earns one of the highest pensions in county government.
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