Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ruther v. Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division II

April 23, 2018

STEVEN RUTHER, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
OKLAHOMA FIREFIGHTERS PENSION AND RETIREMENT SYSTEM, Defendant/Appellee.

          Mandate Issued: 05/24/2018

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF GARFIELD COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE PAUL K. WOODWARD, TRIAL JUDGE

          David C. Henneke, DAVID C. HENNEKE, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Enid, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellant

          Marc Edwards, Catherine L. Campbell, PHILLIPS MURRAH P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellee

          P. THOMAS THORNBRUGH, CHIEF JUDGE

         ¶1 Steven Ruther appeals a decision of the district court dismissing his petition against the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System for failure to state a claim. On review, we vacate the finding of the district court because it was without jurisdiction in this matter.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Ruther is a retired Garfield County firefighter. Early in 2016, Ruther began a correspondence with the Executive Director of the Firefighters Pension and Retirement System regarding the possibility of a "lump sum" distribution of Ruther's accrued pension benefits. The executive director (or an assistant acting on his behalf) informed Ruther that he was not entitled to such a distribution. The system's attorneys later sent Ruther a letter confirming the Executive Director's position. In May 2017, Ruther sued the pension system in Garfield County. The pension system filed a motion to dismiss raising jurisdictional and venue questions, as well as arguing its legal position that a lump sum distribution was not allowed. The district court ruled that, as a matter of law, Ruther was not entitled to a lump sum distribution, without ruling on the jurisdictional and venue questions. Ruther now appeals this decision.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶3 The standard of review for a district court's decision granting a motion to dismiss is de novo. The purpose of such a review is to test the law that governs the claim, not the underlying facts. As such, we take all factual allegations in the petition as true and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom. We do not require the plaintiff to specify a theory of recovery, nor a particular remedy. If relief is possible under any set of facts that can be gleaned from the petition, the motion to dismiss should be denied. Cates v. Integris Health, Inc., 2018 OK 9, ¶ 7, __ P.3d __ (footnotes omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         ¶4 An immediate problem that presents itself in this case is that 11 O.S.2011 § 49-128, part of Article XLIX -- "Firefighters Pension and Retirement System, " requires that:

Any person possessing the qualifications required and provided for under this article, who deems himself aggrieved by a decision of the State Board on his or her claim for pension, either in rejecting his or her claim or in the amount allowed by the Board, or participating municipality, may appeal from such decision by filing a petition in the Oklahoma County District Court within thirty (30) days from the date of such decision. (Emphasis added)

         ¶5 Two factual scenarios are possible under this statute, and neither grants venue to the district court of Garfield County. The first is that Ruther has not yet obtained a decision of the State Board on his claim for benefits. If so, it is clear that he does not have an appealable decision at this time. The second is that Ruther has ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.