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Rosario v. Retirement Board of Policemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

February 19, 2014

GEORGE ROSARIO, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
RETIREMENT BOARD OF THE POLICEMEN'S ANNUITY AND BENEFIT FUND FOR THE CITY OF CHICAGO, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued December 3, 2013.

Page 532

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 10-cv-01512-- John J. Tharp, Jr., Judge.

For GEORGE ROSARIO, EUSEBIO RAZO, ERVIN TERNOIR, JAMES J. GAVIN, JACQUELINE HEALY, Plaintiff - Appellants: Michael Buckley Bolan, Attorney, LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL BUCKLEY BOLAN, Chicago, IL; Keith L. Hunt, Attorney, HUNT & ASSOCIATES, Chicago, IL.

For RETIREMENT BOARD OF THE POLICEMEN'S ANNUITY AND BENEFIT FUND FOR THE CITY OF CHICAGO, STEPHANIE D. NEELY, STEVEN J. LUX, ROBERT F. REUSCHE, GENE R. SAFFOLD, Defendant - Appellees: Joseph Daniel Ryan, Attorney, Scott B. Dolezal, Attorney, LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH D. RYAN, Highland Park, IL; David R. Kugler, Attorney, c/o Retirement Bd. Policemen's Annuity, Chicago, IL.

Before POSNER, MANION, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 533

Manion, Circuit Judge.

Prior to 1992, Chicago police officers received pension credit for time worked for the Cook County Sheriff's Department. In 1992, the Retirement Board (which administers the Chicago Police Department's pension fund) began denying pension credit to retiring officers for their prior service with the Cook County Sheriff's Department. In 2008, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that this practice was improper under the controlling section of the Illinois Pension Code. Thereafter, a number of the officers who had been denied pension credit sought reconsideration of the Board's dispositions of their pension applications. The Board concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to reconsider the applications and summarily refused to do so. The officers filed suit in federal court on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated officers, alleging violations of their procedural due process and equal protection rights under the United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution (and various derivative claims). Eventually, the district court dismissed the action with prejudice. The officers appeal. We affirm.

I. Facts

Pursuant to the Illinois Pension Code (" IPC" ), Chicago police officers are entitled to pension credit

for service rendered prior to becoming a member or subsequent thereto for the following periods:
...
(c) While performing safety or investigative work for the county in which such city is principally located or for the State of Illinois or for the federal government, on leave of absence from the department of police, or while performing investigative work for the department

Page 534

as a civilian employee of the department.

40 ILCS 5/5-214. This statutory provision has not materially changed during any of the times relevant to this appeal. The Retirement Board of the Policemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of the City of Chicago (the " Board" ) administers the Chicago Police Department's pension fund (the "Fund" ), and has the authority to grant or deny requests by officers to receive pension credit. See 40 ILCS 5/5-183-5-195. Prior to 1992, the Board granted pension credit to officers for their service with the Cook County Sheriff's Department performed prior to working for the Chicago Police Department. However, in 1992, the Board concluded that 40 ILCS 5/5-214(c) only applied to officers who worked for the Cook County Sheriff's Department while on a leave of absence from the Chicago Police Department. Thus, from 1992 until 2008, the Board denied pension credit for any officer's service with the Cook County Sheriff's Department performed prior to that officer's employment by the Chicago Police Department.

The Board's pension determinations are administrative decisions which may be reviewed pursuant to the provisions of the Illinois Administrative Review Law (" ARL" ). See 735 ILCS 5/3-101-3-102. The ARL provides that " [e]very action to review a final administrative decision shall be commenced by the filing of a complaint and the issuance of summons within 35 days from the date that a copy of the decision sought to be reviewed was served upon the party affected by the decision...." 735 ILCS 5/3-103. Thus, those officers ...


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