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Metje v. Public Employees Retirement System

Court of Appeals of Oregon

April 18, 2018

Lydia METJE, Petitioner,
v.
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM, Respondent. David H. PARKS, Petitioner,
v.
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM, Respondent.

          Argued and submitted February 16, 2017

          Public Employees Retirement System Board 28083806907

          Mark John Holady argued the cause and fled the briefs for petitioners.

          Keith L. Kutler, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Lagesen, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Petitioners seek judicial review of an order of the Public Employees Retirement System Board upholding an order of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) determining that petitioners were overpaid benefits. Petitioners contend that, to initiate collection efforts against petitioners as lump-sum payees, PERS was required to commence a civil action. Held: Under ORS 238.715, PERS was permitted to initiate recovery of lump-sum overpayments by civil action or "other proceeding." The contested case proceeding begun by PERS was an "other proceeding" within the meaning of that statute, and PERS [291 Or.App. 339] "commenced" the proceeding by timely notifying petitioners of the amounts of the overpayments and their opportunity to seek administrative review.

         Affirmed.

         [291 Or.App. 340]EGAN, C. J.

         In these petitions, consolidated for purposes of opinion, petitioners seek judicial review of an order of the Public Employees Retirement System Board (the board) upholding an order of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) that petitioners were overpaid benefits, after a summary determination on a contested case hearing. We conclude that the board did not err and therefore affirm.

         Petitioners each retired from public employment and elected to receive their PERS benefits in a lump-sum payment. Petitioner Parks received a lump-sum payment on August 22, 2003. Petitioner Metje received a lump-sum payment on February 13, 2004. In March 2006, both petitioners received letters from PERS notifying them that PERS had determined that their benefits had been miscalculated and that, as a result, they had received an overpayment. The letters included a copy of a January 2006 order by PERS establishing a repayment method and promising individual notices describing the exact amounts of the overpayments. The letter also described their appeal rights.

         There were legal challenges to PERS's January 2006 order that resulted in a stay and a hiatus in overpayment collections. That litigation concluded in February 2012. In April 2012, PERS notified petitioners that it was resuming collection of the overpayments and, in December 2012 and January 2013, PERS notified petitioners Metje and Parks, respectively, of the exact amounts of their overpayments.

         The overpayment notices included a notice of appeal rights, which described an administrative review by the PERS director, permitting the submission of written statements. Both petitioners sought administrative review, after which PERS issued a "review determination" upholding the overpayment calculation.

         Petitioners were notified that they had a right to seek a contested case hearing after the review determination. The review determination included a notice of appeal rights:

         "If you disagree with the above Determination, you may request a contested case hearing before an administrative [291 Or.App. 341] law judge by filing a petition within 45 days after the date of this determination."

         Both petitioners requested a contested case hearing before the board, which the board referred to administrative law judges (ALJs) of ...


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