As reported on NJ.Com, yesterday, Mary Jacobson, a State Superior Court Judge blocked an attempt by the Trustees of New Jersey’s largest pension funds to revise their suit seeking billions of dollars from the State to fund the pension system in light of a recent state Supreme Court decision.  The state’s highest court in June found the State of New Jersey had no “legally binding, enforceable obligation” to make payments into the pension system of a State Trooper’s union. The ruling had broad implications for a number of lawsuits filed by other public workers unions.

Labor unions and the trustees of the big three pension funds — the Public Employees’ Retirement System, the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund and the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System —  each filed suit after Christie slashed billions of dollars from planned pension contributions.  The amended complaint, which is separate from the unions’ lawsuit that was heard by the Supreme Court, is the latest in more than a year of legal fighting over pension funding and comes as the labor unions consider whether they will petition the Supreme Court of the United States for review.

In prosecuting the claim, public worker unions had stated that the 2011 pension law created a contract with the state, under which the Governor and Legislature agreed to a funding schedule that would gradually increase contributions into the retirement system to reduce the unfunded liability. Lawyers for the state, meanwhile, argued that the constitutional clauses that dictate how the state spends money and accrues debt supersede any so-called contractual right.  The State’s argument was proffered and accepted by the State Supreme Court despite the fact that the plan to increase funding was based on an accord reached by Governor Christie and the Legislature that mandated public employees to make significant increases to healthcare and pension contributions.  The Supreme Court agreed, siding with Christie in finding that the state cannot be bound to any expense equaling more than 1 percent of the budget, or say, $338 million of this year’s $33.8 billion budget.

The amended complaint that was dismissed by Judge Jacobson challenged whether the state really is off the hook. It argued that the State Supreme Court declared only a promise to make the appropriations unenforceable. The new argument hinges on a separate promise found elsewhere in the law.  However Jacobson stated that the amended suit “seems like an end run around the Supreme Court’s decision.”  “To me, there’s no sense in going forward in this case,” Jacobson said following oral arguments at the Superior Court in Mercer County.  As this issue progresses on appeal, we will keep our readers posted.




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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog ( approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.