United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Patricia C. Coffey
N.H. Judicial Retirement Plan et al.
No. 2019 DNH 126
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Barbadoro United States District Judge
Hampshire Judicial Retirement Plan permits a judge in active
service to retire with a pension if she has at least 15 years
of creditable service and is at least 60 years of age. The
issue this case presents is whether a former judge with
sufficient creditable service has a right to a pension even
though she resigned before she reached the minimum retirement
Coffey served as a full-time New Hampshire Superior Court
judge for 16 years. She resigned in 2008, at the age of 54.
Several years after Coffey turned 60, she applied for a
pension. The Plan's Board of Trustees denied her request
because it determined that a judge must be in active service
when she attempts to claim a pension. Coffey disagreed and
filed this action. The matter is before me on cross-motions
for summary judgment.
NEW HAMPSHIRE JUDICIAL RETIREMENT PLAN
Judicial Retirement Plan (“Plan”) is codified as
Chapter 100-C of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes. It is
“a defined benefit plan providing disability, death,
and retirement protection to [its] members and their
families.” N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 100-C:2, I. The
benefits available under the Plan vary depending upon whether
a judge leaves service by retirement, by death, or “for
reasons other than retirement or death.” See
Id. §§ 100-C:5, 100-C:6 (retirement),
100-C:7 (death), 100-C:8 (reasons other than retirement or
Plan lays out three different paths to retirement. First,
§ 100-C:5, I authorizes a judge to retire and claim a
“service retirement allowance” at designated ages
with sufficient creditable service. Id. §
100-C:5, I. The earliest date at which a judge may retire and
claim a service retirement allowance is age 60. Id.
Second, § 100-C:5, VII permits a judge who is not
eligible for a service retirement allowance to retire at any
time if she has at least five years of creditable service.
Id. § 100-C:5, VII. A judge who retires under
this provision is entitled only to have her contributions to
the Plan returned with interest. Id. Third, §
100-C:6 authorizes a judge to retire on a “disability
retirement allowance” at any time and claim a 70%
annual allowance if she becomes “permanently and
totally disabled.” Id. § 100-C:6.
judge dies while in office or after becoming eligible either
for a service retirement allowance or a disability retirement
allowance, § 100-C:7 authorizes the judge's spouse
(while unmarried) or her minor children (if the judge leaves
no spouse) to receive an annual payment of ½ of the
judge's salary. Id. § 100-C:7.
§ 100-C:8 provides that a judge who “ceases to be
a judge for reasons other than retirement or death” is
entitled only to repayment of the judge's contributions
to the Plan. Id. § 100-C:8, I. Once
contributions are refunded, the judge's rights under the
Plan are terminated. Id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate when the record reveals “no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a); Tang v. Citizens Bank, N.A., 821 F.3d 206,
215 (1st Cir. 2016). In this context, a “material
fact” is one that has the “potential to affect
the outcome of the suit.” Cherkaoui v. City of
Quincy, 877 F.3d 14, 23 (1st Cir. 2017) (internal
quotation marks omitted). A “genuine dispute”
exists if a jury could resolve the disputed fact in the
nonmovant's favor. Ellis v. Fidelity Mgmt. Tr.
Co., 883 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir. 2018).
cross-motions for summary judgment, the standard of review is
applied to each motion separately. See Am. Home Assurance
Co. v. AGM Marine Contractors, Inc., 467 F.3d 810, 812
(1st Cir. 2006); see also Mandel v. Boston Phoenix,
Inc., 456 F.3d 198, 205 (1st Cir. 2006) (“The
presence of cross-motions for summary judgment neither
dilutes nor distorts this standard of review.”). Thus,
I must “determine whether either of the parties
deserves judgment as a matter of law on facts that are not
disputed.” Adria Int'l Grp., Inc. v.
Ferré Dev., Inc., 241 F.3d 103, 107 (1st Cir.
parties agree that no material facts are in dispute and that
I may resolve ...