Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Bad Omen For Pension Lawsuit

A story in yesterday's paper mentions the lawsuit Milwaukee County has filed against Mercer, alleging that Mercer gave faulty information to the County before it was approved. The County's case already suffered a major blow when its star witness, Stuart Piltch, developed sudden health problems related to the CIA training he never received, and dropped out of the case.

From the article:

Bloom, a consultant and vice president for an insurance firm, says Mercer should not be blamed for the county's approval of the pension deal because pension actuaries "are not watchdogs and do not have responsibility for the plan's overall welfare."

Bloom says the County Board and the county's Pension Study Commission had the responsibility to decide whether the benefit upgrade was wise.

The county argues that Bloom isn't qualified to make judgments about what happened because she's not an actuary, a financial analyst who projects long-term benefit costs.

Mercer argues that Bloom's opinions are valid, noting that she is an expert on actuarial ethics.

Farber writes in a report for Mercer that the county's damage estimates linked to the pension deal are inflated because they fail to account for costs of alternative wage and benefit improvements the county likely would have offered to employees had the backdrop deal not been struck.

Farber notes that former county Human Resources Director Gary Dobbert has said the backdrop and related pension upgrades were a bargaining chip used in negotiations for smaller raises.

Dobbert, who was convicted of misleading county officials about the pension upgrade costs, died in August.

Lawyers for the county said Farber's opinions are unreliable because they aren't based on specific evidence that the backdrop was used as a trade-off. Mercer's lawyers defended Farber, an economics professor at Princeton University.

In other filings, the county is asking that mention of Dobbert's misconduct convictions should be off-limits at trial, saying it would prejudice jurors.

I'm not an attorney, nor do I play one on the Intertubes, but it seems to me that the County is well over the edge on this lawsuit if they are coming up with such lame arguments.

Don't get me wrong, I am not wishing the County ill in this matter, but I have to be realistic. The County never bothered to check the credentials on this Piltch fellow, and now they are paying for it. I'm just wondering if the county is now just throwing good money after bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment