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AFSCME, AFL-CIO Locals v. Chafee

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Providence

April 25, 2014

RHODE ISLAND COUNCIL 94, AFSCME, AFL-CIO LOCALS: BOYS & GIRLS TRAINING SCHOOL, LOCAL 314, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; UNIVERSITY OF RI, LOCAL 528, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; VETERANS HOME, LOCA.L 904, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; NBC/BLACKSTONE VALLEY FACILITY, LOCAL 1010, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, LOCAL 1245, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; RI CLASS, LOCAL 1293, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; MEDICAL CENTER, LOCAL 1350, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; RI FAMILY COURT, LOCAL 2203, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; MED. CTR. PHYSICAL PLANT & MGMT. SERVICES, LOCAL 2392, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; DEPUTY SHERIFFS, LOCAL 2409, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION, LOCAL 2448, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & TRAINING, LOCAL 2869, AFSCME COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, LOCAL 2870, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, LOCAL 2872, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; RHODE ISLAND AIRPORT CORPORATION, LOCAL 2873, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; REGISTRY OF MOTOR VEHICLES, LOCAL 2874, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; DEPT. OF CHILDREN, YOUTH & FAMILIES, LOCAL 2876, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; URI PROFESSIONAL/TECHNICAL ADMINISTRATIVE, LOCAL 2877, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE SECURITY & FACILITIES, LOCAL 2878, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE CLERICAL, LOCAL 2879, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, LOCAL 2881, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; MHRH (SUPERVISORY), LOCAL 2883, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; AMALGAMATED, LOCAL 2884, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; EXECUTIVE/ MILITARY STAFF, LOCAL 2886, AFSCME, COUNCIL 94, AFL-CIO; NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION RHODE ISLAND LOCALS: NEA BARRINGTON, LOCAL 801, NEARI; BRISTOL/WARREN, LOCAL 802, NEARI; BURRILLVILLE EA, LOCAL 803, NEARI; NEA CHARIHO, LOCAL 898, NEARI; CUMBERLAND TEACHERS, LOCAL 808, NEARI; DA VIES FACULTY, LOCAL 875, NEARI; EAST GREENWICH ED. ASSOC, LOCAL 809, NEARI; EAST PROVIDENCE ED. ASSOC, LOCAL 810, NEARI; EXETER/WEST GREENWICH TCH. ASSOC, LOCAL 897, NEARI; FOSTER TEACHERS ASSOC, LOCAL 812, NEARI; GLOCESTER TEACHER ASSOC, LOCAL 813, NEARI; JAMESTOWN TEACHERS ASSOC, LOCAL 815, NEARI; LITTLE COMPTON TEACHERS ASSOC, LOCAL 818, NEARI; NEA MIDDLETOWN, LOCAL 819, NEARI; NEA NARRAGANSETT, LOCAL 820, NEARI; TEACHERS ASSN. OF NEWPORT, LOCAL 821, NEARI; NEW SHOREHAM TEACHERS ASSOC, LOCAL 822, NEARI; NEA NORTH KINGSTOWN, LOCAL 823, NEARI; NORTH SMITHFIELD TEACHER ASSOC, LOCAL 825, NEARI; NEA PONAGANSETT, LOCAL 899, NEARI; NEA PORTSMOUTH, LOCAL 827, NEARI; RI SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF TEACHER ASSOC, LOCAL 841, NEARI; SCITUATE TEACHERS ASSOC, LOCAL 830, NEARI; NEA SMITHFIELD, LOCAL 831, NEARI; NEA SOUTH KINGSTOWN, LOCAL 832, NEARI; NEA TIVERTON, LOCAL 833, NEARI; WESTERLY TEACHERS ASSOC, LOCAL 836, NEARI; CCRI/NEARI ESPA, LOCAL 852, NEARI; CCRI FACULTY ASSN., LOCAL 872, NEARI; CCRI/PSA, LOCAL 893, NEARI; RI DEPT OF HEALTH PSA, LOCAL 859, NEARI; URI/ACT, LOCAL 879, NEARI; URI PHYSICIANS, LOCAL 877, NEARI; URI/PSA, LOCAL 888, NEARI; RI SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF TEACHER ASST., LOCAL 884, NEARI; DA VIES TEACHER ASST., LOCAL 867, NEARI; RHODE ISLAND FEDERATION OF TEACHERS AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS LOCALS: WARWICK TEACHERS UNION, LOCAL 915, RIFTHP; NORTH PROVIDENCE FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, LOCAL 920, RIFTHP; PAWTUCKET TEACHERS ALLIANCE, LOCAL 930, RIFTHP; WOONSOCKET TEACHERS GUILD, LOCAL 951, RIFTHP; PROVIDENCE TEACHERS UNION, LOCAL 958, RIFTHP; WEST WARWICK TEACHERS ALLIANCE, LOCAL 1017, RIFTHP; COVENTRY TEACHERS ALLIANCE, LOCAL 1075, RIFTHP; LINCOLN TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, LOCAL 1461, RIFTHP; CENTRAL FALLS TEACHERS UNION, LOCAL 1567; RIFTHP; JOHNSTON FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, LOCAL 1702, RIFTHP; CRANSTON TEACHERS ALLIANCE, LOCAL 1704, RIFTHP; NORTHERN RHODE ISLAND COLLABORATIVE EDUCATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 4940, RIFTHP; HOWARD UNION OF TEACHERS, LOCAL 1171, RIFTHP; RI COURT REPORTERS ALLIANCE, LOCAL 4829, RIFTHP; RI DEPT OF EDUCATION, LOCAL 2012, RIFTHP; RHODE ISLAND BROTHERHOOD OF CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS; INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL ENGINEERS LOCAL 400; NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES/INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF POLICE OFFICERS LOCAL 79; RHODE ISLAND EMPLOYMENT SECURITY ALLIANCE, LOCAL 401; and RHODE ISLAND ALLIANCE OF SOCIAL SERVICE EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 580, Plaintiffs,
v.
LINCOLN CHAFEE, IN HIS CAPACITY AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND; GINA RAIMONDO, IN HER CAPACITY AS GENERAL TREASURER OF THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND; AND THE EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND, BY AND THROUGH THE RHODE ISLAND RETIREMENT BOARD, BY AND THROUGH GINA RAIMONDO, IN HER CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE RETIREMENT BOARD, and FRANK J. KARPINSKI, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE RETIREMENT BOARD, Defendants.

Providence County Superior Court

DECISION

TAFT-CARTER, J.

Plaintiffs consist of a number of local affiliates of Rhode Island Council 94, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, representing Rhode Island state employees, local affiliates of the National Education Association Rhode Island, representing Rhode Island public school teachers and/or employees, local affiliates of Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers, and a number of other local associations representing state and municipal employees (collectively, Plaintiffs). Plaintiffs filed the underlying action against the Governor and General Treasurer of the State of Rhode Island, the Employees' Retirement System of the State of Rhode Island, by and through the Retirement Board and the Chairman and Secretary of the Retirement Board (collectively, Defendants), challenging the constitutionality of the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act (RIRSA) of 2011. Before this Court is Defendants' Motion for More Definite Statement pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P 12(e) or, in the alternative, a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P 12(b)(6). Plaintiffs have objected to these motions.

I Facts and Travel

The Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI), established by legislation in 1936, is a retirement system for state employees, school teachers, and other employees of cities and towns that chose to participate. See G.L. 1956 §§ 36-8-1 et seq. The ERSRI is administered by the Retirement Board (Board), which is chaired by the State Treasurer. Sec. 36-8-4. Among the retirement plans administered by the Retirement Board are the Employees' Retirement System (ERS) and the Municipal Employees' Retirement System (MERS). Sec. 36-10-1 and G.L. 1956 §§ 45-21-1 et seq.

The ERSRI provides a mandatory, contributory defined benefit plan under which participants contribute a statutorily set percentage of their annual salary in exchange for a fixed retirement allowance based on a formula for years of service and salary level achieved. Employees become "vested" upon making ten years of payments into the ERSRI. See § 36-10-1, G.L. 1956 16-16-22, and § 45-21-41. The retirement allowance becomes payable to participants in equal monthly installments after retirement. In addition to the retirement allowance, the pension benefits have been compounded by a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), intended to maintain the real value of a person's pension in light of changes to the cost of living occurring over the life of retirement.

In November 2011, the General Assembly enacted the RIRSA, which altered the standards for retirement for vested employees in the retirement system.[1] The RIRSA changed the structure of the retirement program from a traditional defined benefit plan to a "hybrid plan" with a smaller defined benefit plan and a supplemental defined contribution plan. In creating this new supplemental defined contribution plan, the RIRSA diverted the majority of the contributions of the participants in the ERS into the separate defined contribution plan. The RIRSA also requires employees who were eligible to retire but had not yet retired as of June 30, 2012 to elect either to receive no further accrual towards retirement in their defined benefit plan, notwithstanding continued mandatory contributions, or to receive a reduced value for further services. The RIRSA further requires employees who were not eligible to retire as of June 30, 2012 to either work longer to receive the monthly pension benefit or to accept a reduced pension benefit, thus requiring more years of service to reach the previous benefit level. The RIRSA also permanently reduced all COLAs to apply only to the first $25, 000 of a person's retirement allowance, as well as suspend all COLAs, except every five years until the ERS is funded to eighty percent, which is estimated to take at least sixteen years.

On June 22, 2012, Plaintiff Unions filed suit on behalf of state employees and public school teachers who had served for at least ten years as of the enactment of RIRSA and were eligible to retire as of June 30, 2012 but had not yet retired, as well as those who were not yet eligible to retire as of June 30, 2012. Plaintiffs assert that RIRSA is unconstitutional under the Contract Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Takings Clause of the Rhode Island Constitution. Defendants filed the instant Motion for More Definite Statement (Rule 12(e)) or, in the alternative, a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim (Rule 12(b)(6)).

II

Standard of Review

A

Rule 12(e)

It is well settled in Rhode Island that the role of a Rule 12(e) motion is limited. See 1 Robert B. Kent et al., Rhode Island Civil and Appellate Procedure § 12:15 (West 2006). However, in those instances when a court determines that a pleading is too vague and ambiguous, the court may, in its discretion, grant a motion for more definite statement under Rule 12(e).[2]Id.; see also Mitchell v. E-Z Way Towers, Inc., 269 F.2d 126, 130 (5th Cir. 1959) (explaining that unlike a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a motion for more definite statement involves the exercise of the trial justice's sound and considered discretion). When determining a motion for more definite statement, a court must review the pleading to ensure it is drafted in a manner that allows a defendant to "understand the nature and extent of the charges against him [or her] and to enable him to prepare generally for trial." Buck v. Keenan, 1 F.R.D. 558, 559 (D.R.I. 1941). A court should grant a motion for more definite statement when the complaint, as framed, denies the defendant the ability to properly respond. Oresman v. G.D. Searle & Co., 321 F.Supp. 449, 458 (D.R.I. 1971) (citing Schadler v. Reading Eagle Publ'ns, Inc., 370 F.2d 795 (3d Cir. 1967)). A ...


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