Law Professor: Pension Lawsuit Could Last Years

Dec 6, 2013

Professor John Colombo
Credit University of Illinois College of Law

An Illinois law professor says a lawsuit over Illinois' new pension law will start a process that could last as long as two years.  John Colombo says any decisions will ultimately come from the state’s Supreme Court,  but the process has to start in circuit court. He expects unions to seek an injunction that would keep the reform plan from taking effect while the legal process plays out. Colombo says a circuit court may or may not grant the injunction, but he says it would be hard to reverse a pension plan once it’s already in effect. 

“What happens to people who retire during the time the injunction is in place.  Presumably, they’re under the old rules.  Well, what if the law is upheld?  Then do we put them back under the law’s rules?  And how do we unwind those two years of payments to them?  There are sort of these practical problems both ways.” -- U of I Law Professor John Colombo

Colombo says there are a variety of possible outcomes coming from the state’s high court. He says the pension plan could be upheld in its entirety, struck down altogether, or the court could uphold only portions of the bill. Governor Quinn has said he’ll sign the reform plan ‘promptly.’

Illinois Public Radio's Jeff Bossert contributed to this report.