ATTORNEY seeking to combine lawsuits into class-action lawsuit

Thursday, August 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(MUSKOGEE) - A Tulsa attorney wants to combine four lawsuits filed in Muskogee federal court against four state retirement systems into a class action lawsuit.

Attorney Gary Richardson accused the retirement systems of not crediting members for their military service, which is illegally denying them pension benefits they earned, he said.

``We are seeking to recover many millions of dollars of unpaid and uncredited retirement benefits for retired police officers, public employees, firefighters and law enforcement,'' Richardson said in a statement released Wednesday.

Former Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Director Ted Limke's law of Purcell has sued the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System, and ex-Tulsa Assistant Fire Marshal Louis W. Bordwine is suing the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System.

Also, former Tulsa health inspector and police officer Richard H. Mullins of Claremore sued the Oklahoma Employees Retirement System, while retired Tulsa police officer Bobby Gene Steelman sued the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System.

Richardson wants a judge to certify the lawsuits as ``class actions'' so other individuals can become plaintiffs.

``All of the defendants have continuously supplied the plaintiffs and the proposed class members with misinformation concerning their rights to benefits as well as the status of their benefits,'' Richardson said.

The state is required by law to reward the plaintiffs for time spent in the military service, Richardson said.

Gerald Adams, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, denied the allegations and said the pension funds are operating legally.