Breaking News: Ferrone Law Group Obtains Published Appellate Court Decision Overturning Retirement Law

On Monday, January 30, 2023, Attorney Michael McGill obtained a favorable opinion from the Fourth District Appellate Court in the matter of Casson v. Orange County Employees Retirement System. The opinion is published, meaning it is binding precedent, because it impacts all public employees in the event they decide to switch retirement systems.

Casson was a Santa Ana firefighter and a member of CalPERS. When the Santa Ana Fire Department went County, Casson retired, began collecting his CalPERS retirement, and started over as a new hire with the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) whose pension system is the Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS). He did not elect reciprocity between the two pension systems, meaning he did not combine his two pensions into one singular pension. This was critical, as Government Code Section 31838.5 expressly disallows individuals from collecting a higher pension amount from a combined pension between two systems, then they could if they remained in one pension system. After starting over at OCFA and with OCERS, Casson was medically retired. Normally, Casson should have continued to earn his full CalPERS service retirement, and then, because he started over in a new pension system with OCERS, should have been entitled to a separate pension from OCERS independent of his CalPERS retirement. Instead, OCERS reduced Casson’s pension drastically, citing Section 31838.5, stating that he could not earn more from both systems then he would have had he remained in one system.

Attorney Michael McGill litigated the matter through the superior court and court of appeal, and obtained victory. The Fourth Appellate District sided entirely with Casson holding that Government Code Section 31838.5 only applies when the individual elects reciprocity and thereby combines their retirement from both systems into one system. The ruling is a significant benefit for Casson who will now receive the pension that he is entitled to. Casson has expressed overwhelming gratitude to the Ferrone Law Group and Attorney Michael McGill for their efforts in protecting his rights, during this 6-year battle. Casson will now receive his proper pension going forward and will receive his a lump sum of money making him whole retroactive to when he retired from OCFA.

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