City Attorney Mike Aguirre has dropped the individual defendants from his primary lawsuit that seeks to halve the city’s $1.4 billion pension deficit by rolling back the retirement benefit enhancements that were provided to workers over the past decade.

Aguirre listed six former pension trustees as defendants in his case against the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System, arguing that as pensioners they improperly benefited when they voted to allow the city to not pay its full pension bill in 2002. Their agreement made effective benefit boosts to employees like them, Aguirre claims.

But a spokeswoman for the City Attorney’s Office confirmed that Aguirre dropped the trustees from the suit. They are firefighters union president Ron Saathoff, fingerprint examiner John Torres, former Human Resources Director Cathy Lexin, former Assistant Auditor Terri Webster, management analyst Sharon Wilkinson and former Treasurer Mary Vattimo.

The six trustees will also stand trial in a criminal case the District Attorney’s Office filed. Some are also named in the U.S. attorney’s indictment and other civil lawsuits.

With a judge’s ruling on the case about a week away, the dismissal of the defendants seemed off to some, including Torres’ attorney Bob Rose.

“Why, after 11 months?” he said. Aguirre filed the case last July.

Aguirre spokeswoman Maria Velasquez said the goal of the litigation – rolling back the $700 million worth of benefit increases – could be accomplished without attacking the trustees. Dropping them from the suit “reduces the complexity of the case,” she said.

Stay tuned for more pension tidbits Friday.


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