Wednesday, June 10, 2009

San Diego Police Officer's Ass'n v. San Diego CERES (9th Cir. - June 10, 2009)

Ah, San Diego. The sun. The beaches. The luxury. The disastrous pension situation.

The case out of the Ninth Circuit this morning is but a tiny sliver of the legal disputes generated by the latter. But it's an interesting one, if only because few people are aware that parts of the pension dispute involve -- of all things -- claim preclusion and the Contracts Clause.

It's also a case worth reading, at least for those down here in San Diego, for the opinion's attitude towards some of the appellant police officers' arguments. Let me just give one snippet as an example: "Despite the district court’s having granted summary judgment to Appellees on all of Association’s federal claims, Association contends that it should be considered the prevailing party. . . . Association seeks to emulate the alchemists in the Middle Ages in its effort to transmute the base metal of its total loss on the merits into the gold of 'prevailing party' status . . . . That just won’t work." Given this predicate, to whom do you think the opinion was referring in footnote eleven, which reads: "Each of Association and Appellees argues that the other’s appeal as to the award of costs should be deemed frivolous. But neither party submitted the motion required under Fed. R. App. P. 38. In the absence of such a separately filed motion, we cannot grant a party its attorneys’ fees
and costs in defending an appeal, notwithstanding the potential merit of any claim." (Parenthetically: Latham, which represented the appellees, should know better than to make this basic mistake -- a mistake that likely cost the City a monetary benefit that it can ill-afford to lose. Maybe I'm just bitter because I figure that, as a City taxpayer, my share of the loss is around a full penny.)

So another piece of the pension puzzle comes to an end. Now to deal with the remaining 999.