Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Appeals court rules that St. Petersburg owes former officers for pension payments

ST. PETERSBURG — Hundreds of former police officers scored an important legal win in their four-year battle to get the city to pay them $1.5 million in pension contributions.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal on Friday upheld a lower court's decision that former officers are entitled to be paid back for what they contributed to city's police pension fund.

"I believe that the court has said very plainly and very clearly that they owe these officers this money," said the officers' attorney, Jean Kwall, on Tuesday.

Those officers left before working the 10 years required to become vested in the pension plan.

The city has long contended that it doesn't have to pay refunds to officers who aren't vested, and that those officers knew the rule when they went to work for the city and then left to work elsewhere.

But judges at the circuit, and now appellate, level have ruled that St. Petersburg's pension rules violate state law. And the three appellate judges from the 2nd DCA ruled unanimously.

"The City contends that the former police officers are bound by the terms of their employment contracts … that their contributions were forfeited absent vesting," the 2nd DCA wrote in its opinion.

"Any such agreement, however, seems contrary to the legislative intent and public policy … and may be void."

The city also raised several arguments about why it can't pay back the officers even if it agreed that they should be paid back. But the 2nd DCA rejected all of those, too.

"We're reviewing that opinion and looking at our options," said St. Petersburg Chief Assistant City Attorney Mark Winn.

Winn said he couldn't publicly discuss those options without first talking to the mayor and council.

But Mayor Bill Foster said Tuesday that he didn't know where the money to pay the former officers would come from. And the city is also on the hook for their six-figure legal fees.

The city would need a constitutional issue to file an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court. Or it could ask the 2nd DCA for a rehearing. The city has a month to file some kind of appeal.

"I believe their options are much more limited today than they were last week," Kwall said.

The original plaintiffs were six officers who sued the city in 2006. But when the lawsuit was given class-action status, hundreds of officers hired after March 12, 1999, became eligible to join the suit.

Times staff writer Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at or (727) 893-8472.

Appeals court rules that St. Petersburg owes former officers for pension payments 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 11:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Here kitty, kitty ...


    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured


    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)