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State Supreme Court sides with retirement board in appeals case

A former South Charleston mayor lacked jurisdiction to stop pension payments to three county employees who retired and later returned to office, the state Supreme Court ruled this week.

Attorney Richie Robb appealed a Kanawha County Circuit Court ruling that said he didn't represent the West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board and couldn't act on its behalf.

Robb had filed a motion to immediately stop pension payments to two circuit court judges and a Summers County magistrate. He argued that the employees "gamed the system" after they retired, then resumed their judicial offices after re-election, drawing both a salary and a pension.a

The retirement board filed a motion to dismiss for a failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. It argued that Robb did not have the jurisdiction to represent them. Robb said he is retired and therefore could represent the board as a beneficiary of the system.

The circuit court conducted a hearing on April 8, 2010 and entered an order dismissing Robb's claim.

The board notes variables that determine the amount of an employee's retirement are not impacted by what the employee does post-retirement. That post-retirement choice also does not have any impact, positive or negative, on the Public Employees Retirement System.

Robb appealed the decision to the Supreme Court in November 2011.

The Supreme Court released a ruling Friday upholding the circuit court's decision.

The ruling said the Legislature created a law to prevent "gaming the system" but it went into affect in 2009 and didn't affect those who retired before that.

"There is no indication that the Legislature intended retroactive application," according to the order.

The court also said the circuit court did not err in dismissing Robb's petition.

Robb could not be reached for comment.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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