In carrying out research for a client about public pension fund trends, I came across a website called Pension Litigation Tracker. Maintained by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, this collection of court documents and descriptions of ongoing developments in "pension reform lawsuits" looks to be a helpful resource at a time when there is increased pressure on numerous municipalities to address the challenges associated with underfunded retirement plans, including questions about the constitutionality of benefit arrangements. A drop down menu allows the user to search by state or by topics such as double dipping, increased employee contribution, pension rights and reduced benefits.
As I have discussed extensively in analyses about the impact of pension deficits on the sponsor's ability to raise capital, service debt and/or sustain economic growth, it is no surprise that litigation and regulatory enforcement that alleges either contractual non-performance or fiduciary breach (or both) is growing. Interested readers can download "Muni Bonds, Pension Liabilities and Investment Due Diligence" by Dr. Susan Mangiero, Dr. Israel Shaked and Mr. Brad Orelowitz (American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, July 2014). Also visit the Municipal Bond section of the Good Risk Governance Pays website.
These cases have the potential to be large in terms of dollar damages as well as the cost of defense. An example is the class action filed against the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System by its "75,000 active members, and over 45,000 annuitants."
While http://pensionlitigation.org/ emphasizes the legal nature of disputes about benefit reforms proposed by cities and states, it does not showcase the large number of investment-related lawsuits wherein a public pension plan(s) files a 10b-5 lawsuit against the issuer of a security that is owned by the plaintiff, alleging securities fraud. These actions are likewise large and plentiful. More will be said about this topic in a later post.