Craighead County justices to receive update on APERS lawsuit

Craighead County justices to receive update on APERS lawsuit
The discussion will be part of the May 13 meeting of the Craighead County Quorum Court in Jonesboro. (Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Craighead County officials are expected to receive an update next week on a lawsuit involving the state’s public employee retirement system and former employees of Craighead Nursing Center in light of a recent ruling from the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

The discussion will be part of the May 13 meeting of the Craighead County Quorum Court in Jonesboro.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals on May 1 reversed the ruling of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray on the issue.

The ruling noted several former employees of nursing homes in Craighead, Lawrence, and Union counties had requested retirement benefits through the Arkansas Public Employee Retirement System in 2013.

A year later, the APERS Board of Trustees denied the request, saying the former employees were not considered “county employees” under the law.

“The Board of Trustees determined that the appellees were not ‘county employees’ eligible for APERS benefits because they were paid from revenues generated by the patients of the nursing homes, rather than from appropriations made by the quorum courts of each county,” Judge Raymond R. Abramson said in the 37-page ruling.

However, Judge Brandon J. Harrison countered in his dissenting ruling that the issue “plumbs the depths of counties’ governmental structures, their operations and the delegation of power.”

“On whether the petitioners should have been included in APERS, I would hold that the board’s denial is wholly inadequate under the Administrative Procedure Act, which is to say that it is clearly wrong. The board’s decision should therefore be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings,” Harrison wrote.

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