Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Settlement to NYPD Pension Qualms Approved by Judge

MANHATTAN (CN) - New York City's plan to correct undercalculated pensions for hundreds of police officers resolves class action claims, a federal judge ruled.

The United States filed the 2012 lawsuit on behalf of three officers with the New York City Police Department who were called into active military service after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Before their retirements, David Goodman was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and former NYPD detective; Michael Doherty was a former U.S. Coast Guard reservist and NYPD detective; and Robert Black was a former U.S. Coast Guard reservist and NYPD sergeant.

Each of the officers said that he regularly worked overtime and nighttime hours for the NYPD, but had his pension benefits calculated using only base pay at the time he was called to duty.

The government said the calculations violated the spirit and letter of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. It called for recalculation of the pensions, plus unspecified damages.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced this past June that New York City had agreed to recalculate the pensions for all similarly situated retired, active or future officers.

There was no mention of monetary damages.

Officers cannot benefit from the settlement unless they were notified about their pensions after Oct. 10, 2004 because of the statute of limitations.

At a brief hearing on Monday, Robert Kwalwasser objected that this wrongly left him out. He said that he was called to serve between Sept. 17, 2001, and Feb. 15, 2003.

Kwalwasser retired in June 2003 and collected his first pension check the next month, but his final agency approval had not occurred until 2006.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan reserved decision on whether this placed him within or outside the statute of limitations, and he denied the objections of three other officers who did not appear in court.

Kwalwasser declined to speak for an interview, saying that he was awaiting the judge's ruling.

Calling the settlement a "big win" for the plaintiffs, the judge asked the three named plaintiffs seated at the front table if they were satisfied with it, and all three agreed that they were.

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