Retired Fire Fighters Win Increased Pension Benefits

Portland Fire Fighters are covered by the Portland Fire & Police Disability & Retirement (FPDR) Fund.  The pension benefits of fire fighters who retired under an old FPDR pension system known as “FPDR One” were calculated based on current top step fire fighter base wages.  After the Portland Fire Fighters Association negotiated an “apparatus operator” premium in 2007 that applied to virtually all non-probationary fire fighters, one retiree asked that the apparatus operator premium pay be included in the calculation of his pension benefit.  The FPDR Fund refused.  Hank Kaplan filed two class action complaints on behalf of approximately 500 members of the FPDR One system.  The class action was denied, then appealed while an administrative hearing was held.  The administrative law judge decided the case in favor of the retirees, and ordered recalculation of the pension benefits. The County Circuit Court upheld the ruling of the administrative law judge. After six years of litigation appeals and a writ of mandamus, the City of Portland finally agreed to correct its method for calculating future FPDR One pension benefits, and also agreed to pay class members more than $2.2 million in retroactive benefits.