The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN
This matter comes before the Court on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and on defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Plaintiffs are retired former employees of the U.S. Secret Service ("Secret Service") who were serving as criminal investigators for the Secret Service at the time of their retirement. Although plaintiffs were federal employees, their retirement benefits are governed by the District of Columbia Police and Firefighters Retirement Disability Act, ("District Retirement Act"), D.C.Code §§ 4-601 through 4-634. The defendant District of Columbia administers plaintiffs' retirement payments, while the defendant United States authorizes the funds to support the retirement program.
Plaintiffs claim that they are entitled to a 25 percent increase in their annuity payments to correspond to a 25 percent increase in salary which active duty investigators were granted by the Law Enforcement Availability Pay ("LEAP") Act of 1994, 5 U.S.C. § 5545a. Plaintiffs base their argument on the "equalization clause" of the District Retirement Act, which grants an increase in the annuity payments to retirees when the salaries of active duty officers are increased. D.C.Code § 4-605(c). Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.
Defendants assert that this Court does not have jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's claims. In the alternative, defendants argue that plaintiffs are not entitled to an increase in their retirement payments because LEAP is not a salary increase for Secret Service investigators but merely an administrative change in the manner in which they are paid.
I. Defendant's Jurisdictional Challenge
Defendants move this Court to dismiss the case on the ground that the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider plaintiffs' claims. Specifically, defendants argue that plaintiffs' complaint fails to identify any statute conferring a cause of action or a waiver of sovereign immunity.
Significantly, defendants do not argue that jurisdiction is per se improper, but merely that plaintiffs have not carried their burden of establishing that jurisdiction exists. In fact, in an earlier case before this Court involving a very similar legal issue, the United States removed the case to federal court from D.C. Superior Court, an act which evinced the United States' position that federal jurisdiction existed. Lanier v. District of Columbia and the United States, 871 F. Supp. 20 (D.D.C. 1994) (involving application of the equalization clause of the D.C. Retirement Act to a federal law granting "locality pay" to certain Secret Service retirees), cited with approval in District of Columbia v. Rudolph Tarlosky, et al., 675 A.2d 77 (D.C. App. 1996).
Here, at a minimum, the second prong of the test is met. An essential component of plaintiffs' claim is the argument that the federal LEAP statute granted plaintiffs a substantive right. It is necessary to construe LEAP in order to define plaintiffs' rights under the equalization provision. Moreover, as discussed below, Congress clearly intended LEAP to affect the retirement benefits of Secret Service criminal investigators. It would be incongruous for Congress to give retirees a specific entitlement and at the same time deny them the right to enforce that entitlement.
Plaintiffs are correct in their stated position that sovereign immunity has been waived by section 702 of the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. sec. 701 et seq.,; see Bowen v. Massachusetts, 487 U.S. 879, 891-92, 101 L. Ed. 2d 749, 108 S. Ct. 2722 (1988).
Here, the District of Columbia and the federal government are acting as agencies, and their respective refusals to grant plaintiffs the annuity increase they are entitled to and to fund and disburse it constitute agency action under the APA. See Andrean v. Secretary of the Army, 840 F. Supp. 1414, 1421 (D.Kan. 1993) (finding that § 702 of the APA acted as waiver of sovereign immunity and that district court had jurisdiction to hear claim based on a federal military pension statute). Sovereign immunity was also waived when Congress delegated authority to administer plaintiffs' retirement program to the District of Columbia, a municipal corporation subject to being sued, which in turn has delegated the responsibility to the District of Columbia Office of Personnel.
Accordingly, the Court finds that jurisdiction properly lies with this Court.
II. Applicability of the "Equalization Provision" to the LEAP Statute
The substantive issue before this Court is one of statutory construction. The Court must decide whether the "equalization provision" of the District Retirement Act requires plaintiffs' retirement pay be increased by 25 percent in light of the enactment of ...