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Appellate Court Allows Attorney General Complaint Against Pension Board in Burge Case

December 5th, 2012

           The First District Appellate Court has overturned a Circuit Court decision that dismissed Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s lawsuit against Jon Burge and the Policemen’s Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago.  The Attorney General’s Complaint seeks to stop pension payments to Jon Burge on the basis of his felony convictions for perjury and the action of the Fund’s Trustees in voting 4 to 4 to cease payments to Burge.

            The Pension Board previously voted to a 4 to 4 tie on the issue of whether Burge’s conviction arose out of or was connected with his employment as a Chicago police officer.  The Board concluded that the tie vote meant that Burge would continue to receive his pension benefits.  A majority of the Appellate Court disagreed finding that the Pension Code requires that no benefit shall be paid without a vote of the majority of the members of the Pension Board.  The majority concluded that the Pension Board’s determination that a tie vote resulted in the continuation of Burge’s benefits was error and therefore voidable.  Justice Garcia filed a specially concurring opinion in which he expressed his disagreement with the majority that the 4 to 4 tie vote resulted in the loss of Burge’s pension benefits.

            The Court also addressed the standing of the Attorney General to bring this Complaint against the Pension Board.  The Court acknowledged that Section 1-115(b) of the Pension Code authorizes the Attorney General, or a participant, beneficiary or fiduciary to bring a civil action to enjoin any act that violates the Pension Code.  The Pension Board argued that their decision was reviewable only under Administrative Review Law and that the Attorney General had filed their Complaint more than 35 days after the final decision and order of the Pension Board thereby barring the Complaint.  The Appellate Court disagreed with the Pension Board and found that Section 1-115(b) granted the circuit court concurrent jurisdiction with the Pension Board to hear the case.  The case was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings on the issue of whether Burge’s felony convictions arise out of his police employment for the purposes of forfeiting his pension.

Our attorneys will continue to monitor this case and provide updates as they occur.

People ex rel. Madigan v. Burge et al., 2012 IL. App. (1st) 112842