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Judge rules against more pay for retired police, firefighters 03/17/05

Judge rules against more pay for retired police, firefighters 03/17/05

A group of retired Metro police and firefighters lost a court battle yesterday to have their pension benefits increased.

The 12 retirees sued Metro in September 2002 claiming that the city should have used their accrued vacation pay to calculate their pension benefits — a practice the city used to allow before the Department of Law issued an opinion in September of 2001.

For instance, one of the plaintiffs, former Officer Phillip Taylor, would have been entitled to an additional $139 per month if his unused vacation time had been credited to his final year of service, court documents said.

The plaintiffs argued it would be unfair to deny them the extra pay because other firefighters and police officers who retired before the Department of Law’s opinion received the added benefit.

However, on Tuesday, Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled that the inclusion of accrued vacation pay to calculate the pension was an ”irregular and informal practice in Metro.” The chancellor said it is contrary to the Metro ordinances that regulate the plan.

A lawyer representing the police officers said he ”respectfully” disagreed with the judge’s opinion.

”We certainly think that these officers and firefighters are entitled to the benefit because everyone else received it; and therefore, we think the judge should permit us that benefit,” Nashville attorney David Raybin said.

It’s not clear how much money Metro saved by discontinuing the practice. Officials with Human Resources who might know could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday.

— Sheila Burke