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Surprise, surprise — California favors the young. But the Golden State has taken measures recently to remedy that. In fact, a settlement reached by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) this January overturned an age-biased state law governing disability payouts. A class of more than 1,700 public safety officers had filed suit against CalPERS because a California law curtailed their disability pensions based on the age at which they were hired. The $250 million settlement is the largest ever involving the federal government in a discrimination suit. Under the consent decree approved by Sacramento federal district judge Charles Breyer, CalPERS will pay the class $50 million in retroactive benefits and will increase its future benefits by $200 million. The lead plaintiff, Ronald Arnett, was a patrol officer in Fremont, California, when a 1992 back injury forced him into early retirement. Under California law, Arnett received only 32 percent of his annual salary in disability payments because he had joined the police force when he was 43. Had Arnett joined at age 30, he would have received 50 percent of his annual salary. Represented by Steven Pingel and Thomas Frankovich, Arnett filed suit in 1995. Judge Breyer dismissed the suit, but the plaintiffs won on appeal. CalPERS then brought the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that individuals cannot bring age discrimination suits against government employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which had written an amicus brief during the appeal, then reentered the case on the plaintiffs’ behalf. Once the case was back in the trial court — and the EEOC was a named plaintiff — it settled. For Plaintiffs Ronald Arnett et al. n Law Office of Steven Pingel (Cerritos, California): Steven Pingel. Arnett was referred to the firm by the EEOC; Pingel’s firm is known for handling employment law cases. n The Frankovich Group, Lawyers (San Francisco): Thomas Frankovich. n Law Office Of Ellen Lake (Oakland): Ellen Lake. Lake is a civil appellate specialist who worked with Pingel in the late 1990s, handling the appeal of a wrongful termination suit involving the principal of a Catholic school. In 1998 Pingel brought Lake on for the Arnett appeal. For Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Washington, D.C.) n In-house: Regional attorney William Tamayo, supervisory trial attorney Jonathan Peck, senior trial attorney David Offen-Brown, and trial attorney Raymond Cheung. (All are in the EEOC’s San Francisco office.) For Defendant California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Sacramento) n In-house: Staff counsel Rory Coffey and Richard Maness. n California Attorney General’s Office (Sacramento): Supervising deputy attorney general Miguel Neri, deputy attorneys general Raymond Hamilton and Mark Johnson. OUTLOOK The plaintiffs attorneys are applying for fees and expect the discriminatory state law, which remains on the books but is nullified by the settlement, to be repealed. — Helen Coster

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