The Police Retirement System of St. Louis, Missouri

On September 13, 2022, in the case of James Crawford v. Police Retirement System, et al., the City of St. Louis (“City”) filed a motion for summary judgment on its Cross-Claim against the State of Missouri (“State”).  A motion for summary judgment is a motion contending that there is no factual dispute between or among the parties over a particular issue involved in a lawsuit and that, based on these undisputed facts, the moving party is entitled to judgment based on the law.  A motion for summary judgment does not necessarily resolve all the legal issues in a case; frequently, it may resolve only a single issue in a case while leaving other issues to be resolved in the future.

In this lawsuit, the taxpayer plaintiff has contended that certain police benefits which state statutes require the City to pay, should instead be the responsibility of the State to pay, based on the Hancock Amendment, which provides that the State cannot enact statutes which increase the financial burden on local governments without also providing a funding mechanism to meet such a financial burden.  But statutes governing the Police Retirement System also provide that if a court of law holds the State has the responsibility to pay any such benefit, then that benefit will cease.  Such statutes are often known as “poison pill” statutes, in that they are designed to deliberately “kill” another statute if a certain contingency occurs. With regard to the City’s motion for summary judgment, it is directed only against the State.  It argues that if it is determined the State is legally required to pay for the police benefits, the “poison pill” statutes do not apply, and the State must pay for those benefits.

This motion is based on the City’s Cross-Claim, which is filed only against the State.  It is not filed against the Police Retirement System, and therefore, the System is not legally obligated, nor entitled, to file anything responding to it.  It should be noted that it is the opinion of the System’s counsel that even if the City’s motion is granted, it will have no effect on the outcome of the case unless and until the court would also rule in favor of the taxpayer plaintiff’s claim that requiring the City to pay these benefits violates the Hancock Amendment.  The System has argued that it does not violate the Hancock Amendment.  This dispute remains pending and will be resolved at a later date.