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Cut To City Of Detroit Retiree Pensions Could Send Case To Supreme Court

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Attorneys representing Detroit’s retirees are due back in bankruptcy court this Thursday to hear Judge Stephen Rhodes’ determination on the city’s proposed agreements with debt-holders.

We asked retiree’s Attorney Ryan Plecha can legal action be taken to block any court-approved pension cuts?

“As far as the OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) goes, we have filed a request that the city not be allowed to proceed with their health care offerings as it relates to the health care,” said Plecha. “As far as a stay of the proceedings — at this point, I don’t think it’s available because the bankruptcy court rules provide that there’s no stay allowed in eligibility appeals or determinations.”

Plecha says a petition has been filed in the Court of Appeals against Judge Rhodes’ eligibility ruling. The court has been asked to expedite the hearing and its opinion.

If the city of Detroit decides to cut retiree pensions, the case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court said Plecha.

“…and, should it not go in the, what we will call, right direction, we would have the option of filing a writ to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. This issue is important enough that its likely could be taken by the U.S. Supreme Court based on the questions of federalism; pensions — and as it relates to not only the City of Detroit, but the entire country.”

Plecha says some retirees he’s heard from personally, are concerned that they’ll have to choose between essentials like buying food or their prescription medication. Some of those retirees’ live on pensions of just 600 dollars-per-month.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Detroit retirees packed the conference room at Burton Manor in Livonia Tuesday.

Shirley Lightsey, President of the Detroit Retired City Employee Association (DRCEA), says the focus was health insurance options and rumors about retiree pensions.

One rumor has it that retirees are being offered 16-cents on the dollar. Lightsey hasn’t heard any such offer, officially. And, if she does, there’s little doubt about her response …

“As President of DRCEA, I’m not agreeing to any cuts in the pension. And … our attorney … he knows our opinion,” said Lightsey. “I just won’t ever say yes. I already testified to that on the stand when the eligibility trial was in session.”

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