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A federal appeals court today upheld a lower court’s decision to throw out a lawsuit filed by the Police Officers Association against former City Attorney Mike Aguirre and city officials.

The court determined that the city didn’t violate the officers’ federal constitutional rights by changing certain benefits, including reducing the salaries of officers enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan and changing eligibility requirements for the retiree medical care program.

Of course, the city and police union are currently locked in a different suit in San Diego Superior Court. That suit was filed to determine whether the city has a right to eliminate DROP or make changes to the program.

Today’s court ruling concerns just one issue involving DROP — whether the city can reduce the salaries of officers already taking part in the program. In the opinion, the court says DROP members “are considered as ‘retired’ — a legal fiction — only for purposes of calculation of the pension benefits, while they remain subject to all other terms and conditions of employment, including disciplinary actions up to and including termination.”

In a statement, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the decision “supports our legal position that DROP and retiree medical are not vested rights and that they can be modified or eliminated without a vote of the members.”

Goldsmith recently opined that DROP could be eliminated for management employees because the initial vote to implement the program was invalid.

You can read the court’s opinion here and our recap of the earlier decision here.

RANI GUPTA

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