Sunday, April 1, 2007

City of Annapolis v. Bowen et al. (Ct. of Special Appeals)

Decided March 30, 2007—Opinion by Judge Peter Krauser

Retired firefighters and police officers sought declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the City of Annapolis (“City”) to increase their pension payments in tandem with reclassification of the positions of their active-duty counterparts. The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County agreed that Annapolis City Code § 3.36.150A1 required that the retirees receive pension increases commensurate with wage increases received by active-duty personnel. The City appealed, contending that pension increases under ACC § 3.36.150A1 were limited to cost-of-living adjustments.

The retirees first argued that Maryland Code (1974, 2006 Repl. Vol.) § 12-302 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article barred the City’s appeal. Reasoning that circuit court had been exercising mandamus jurisdiction below, the Court of Special Appeals found that it had jurisdiction to hear the City’s appeal.

On the merits, the retirees argued that their interpretation of ACC § 3.36.150A1 was supported by “similar legislation” in DC. The “similar” DC provision contains an explicit “equalization provision” granting retired police officers and firefighters increases in their pension when active-duty counterparts receive wage increases. The Court of Special Appeals held that the DC provision was not a cost-of-living provision like ACC § 3.36.150A1, and was in fact created to compensate for the absence of such a provision in DC. Thus the Court reversed the lower court’s decision.

The opinion is available in PDF.

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