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Notice of Court Ordered Certification of Class Action

Affecting Certain Retirees and Members of the Employees Retirement System of Baltimore County

This Notice concerns the certification of a Class by the Circuit Court for Harford County in a class action lawsuit entitled Brian J. Rowe, et al v. Baltimore County, MD, et al. Case No. 12-C-10-002273 OC (the “Lawsuit”). The certified Class includes certain retirees and members of the Employees Retirement System for Baltimore County (“BCERS”) who previously transferred service credit to BCERS from another noncontributory retirement plan or system.

What is the Lawsuit About?

The Plaintiffs in the Lawsuit, like the members of the Class, all transferred service credit from a non-contributory retirement system to BCERS’ contributory retirement system when they became employed by Baltimore County. The Lawsuit claims that Baltimore County has adopted and utilized an illegal method for calculating a reduction (known as a “Deficiency”) to the past and future retirement benefits of persons who transferred service credit from a non-contributory retirement system to BCERS. The Plaintiffs allege that the method used by Baltimore County to calculate that “Deficiency” improperly utilizes a “valuation rate” of interest and not the “regular rate of interest” applied by BCERS to member contributions, which significantly reduces Class members’ retirement benefits and vested rights in a manner which the Plaintiffs contend violates State law. The Plaintiffs seek payment of all underpaid retirement benefits to those Class Members who have or will have retired by the time the Lawsuit concludes, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the Defendants to calculate and pay future retirement benefits to all Class Members consistent with State law. BCERS and the other Defendants in the Lawsuit dispute the Plaintiffs’ claims and contend that their “valuation rate” method for reducing retirement benefits for persons who transferred service credit from a non-contributory retirement system to BCERS is legal. The Court has not made any judgment or other determination of the Defendant’s liability in the Lawsuit.

Who is Part of the Class?

The certified Class includes those persons who transferred service credit to BCERS from a noncontributory retirement plan or system whose deficiency under Section 37-203(F)(2) of the State Personnel and Pension Article of the Maryland Annotated Code (or its predecessor statutes) was calculated or under County law will be calculated based on the “valuation rate” established by BCERS and not the “regular rate of interest” applied by BCERS to member contributions. The Class excludes those persons: (i) who withdrew their contributions from BCERS and did not later return to county service and repurchase service credit earned by them; (ii) who after becoming a member in BCERS, transferred their retirement service credit to another jurisdiction and did not subsequently transfer it back to BCERS; and (iii) who timely opt-out of the class.

Important Additional Information for Class Members

The following link contains the Court-approved Notices for mailing to Class Members that provides important information and deadlines affecting the rights of Class members. If you are a member of the Class described above, please click on the link and review it carefully.  If you are not sure whether you fall within the Class or want more information about the Lawsuit, please contact the Court-appointed attorney for the Class, Virginia W. Barnhart of Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP either by telephone at (410) 545-5803; by email to Virginia.Barnhart@wbd-us.com or by mail to Virginia W. Barnhart, Esquire, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP. 100 Light Street, 26th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21201.

 
Revised June 2, 2020         

 

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