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LANIER v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

December 15, 1994

GLENARD E. LANIER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA and, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY SPORKIN

 This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and Defendant United States' cross-motion to dismiss. This case presents an issue of statutory construction. Plaintiffs are all retired members of the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division ("Secret Service"). Although they were federal employees, their retirement is governed by the District of Columbia Police and Firefighters Retirement and Disability Act ("District Retirement Act"), D.C. Code §§ 4-601 through 4-634. The issue presented to the Court is whether pursuant to the District Retirement Act's "equalization provision," § 4-605(c), the plaintiffs' retirement pay should be increased to reflect the "locality pay adjustments" given to active duty officers of the Secret Service.

 SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS

 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." In this case, there are no genuine issues of material fact and the issue before the court is solely one of law.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 Plaintiffs, who are retired members of the Secret Service, are covered by the District of Columbia Police and Firefighters Retirement and Disability Act ("District Retirement Act"), §§ 4-601 through 4-634. At the time of their retirement, all plaintiffs were serving in the Washington, D.C. - Maryland - Virginia Statistical Metropolitan Area ("Washington, D.C"). See Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts No. 3. Sixty-four percent of the plaintiff class, which is 311 plaintiffs, currently reside in the Washington, D.C. area. See Plaintiffs' Statement of Material Facts No. 5.

 Plaintiffs argue that pursuant to the "equalization provision" in the District Retirement Act, D.C. Code § 4-605(c), they are entitled to have their retirement pensions increased by 4% to reflect the "locality pay adjustment" given to active members. *fn1"

 ANALYSIS AND DECISION

 The "equalization provision" provides:

 
Each individual retired from active service and entitled to receive a pension allowance or retirement compensation under §§ 4-607 to 4-630 shall be entitled to receive, without making application therefore, with respect to each increase in salary, granted by any law which takes effect after the effective date of the District of Columbia Police and Firemen's Salary Act Amendments of 1972, to which he would be entitled if he were in active service, an increase in his pension relief allowance or retirement compensation computed as follows: His pension relief allowance or retirement compensation shall be increased by an amount equal to the product of such allowance or compensation and the per centum increase made by such law in the scheduled rate of compensation to which he would be entitled if he were in active service on the effective date of such increase in salary.

 § 4-605(c) (Emphasis added).

 Principles of statutory construction dictate that the Court is to interpret a statute according to its plain terms. American Tobacco Co. v. Patterson, 456 U.S. 63, 71 L. Ed. 2d 748, 102 S. Ct. 1534. In analyzing the meaning to be attached to particular phrases, it is necessary to view the statute as a whole, informed by its overall purpose and objective. See In Re Mitchell, 977 F.2d 1318, 1320 (9th Cir. 1992) ("particular phrases must be construed in light of the overall purpose and structure of the whole statutory scheme."); Tataranowicz v. Sullivan, 294 U.S. App. D.C. 322, 959 F.2d 268, 276 (D.C. Cir. 1992) ("In determining the meaning of the statute, we look not only to the particular statutory language, but to the design of the statute as a whole and to its object and policy.")

 The plain terms of the statute indicate that the retirees are to receive commensurate percentage increases in their retirement compensation for "each increase in salary, granted by any law . . . to which he would be entitled if he were in active service. . . ." (emphasis added.) The Court finds that the 4% locality increase is an "increase in salary granted by law" to which active members in the Washington, D.C. area are entitled. A plain ...


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