JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Another large win came Friday afternoon for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s pension reform efforts, as the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court awarded the City of Jacksonville a motion for summary judgment on all seven counts in a previously filed lawsuit against the referendum.
The pension referendum vote was held on Aug. 30, 2016 and was approved by voters by a 65 percent-to-35 percent margin. The plaintiffs filed a two-count complaint against the City of Jacksonville on July 26, 2016, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.
The five plaintiffs, Joseph Andrews, Connie Benham, Dr. Juan P. Gray, Lynn Price and Reverend Levy Wilcox, submitted an amended complaint with an additional five counts added to the lawsuit earlier this year. In March, both parties filed motions for summary judgment.
The five plaintiffs were denied their motion for summary judgment following a hearing held on May 2. Among the seven counts listed in the lawsuit, plaintiffs claimed the ballot language was unclear, ambiguous and contained misstatements of facts.
Senior Circuit Court Judge Donald Moran, Jr. ruled against the plaintiffs on all seven counts and the five misstatements the plaintiffs allege to be misleading did not amount to a level of ambiguity that would "cloud the chief purpose of the referendum."
In conclusion, Judge Moran wrote that the "court has a duty to only set aside an election when it finds substantial non-compliance with statutory election procedure and reasonable doubt as to whether the election expressed the will of the voter.”
The Jacksonville City Council recently approved pension reform legislation, which had been filed at the request of Mayor Curry back in March. All 14 bills relating to the reform of Jacksonville’s troubled pension plan were approved and enacted during a special city council meeting on April 24.
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