Arken v. City of Portland, 351 Or 113 (2011)

Holding:   The 2003 PERS reform legislation did not violate the contractual rights of certain PERS employees, the theory of promissory estoppel did not lie, and, plaintiff’s wage claims were spurious.

1)    “In interpreting the terms of a statute, the court will examine the text and context of the statute and consider the legislative history of the statute where that legislative history is useful in determining the meaning of the terms used.” citing State v. Gaines. at p. 133.

2)   When discerning legislative intent, the Court focuses on the intent of that particular legislature and that particular time and discounts subsequent events. at p. 133.

3)    It is particularly important to focus on the correct legislature when analyzing statutes to determine whether they constitute a statutory contract. at p 133.

4)    The text of the statute is best evidence of legislative intent. at p. 134.

5)    Fact that Supreme Court subsequently struck down one portion of the statute, has no effect on analyzing legislative intent, as subsequent events are to be discounted. at p. 134, ftn 15.

6)     Context and legislative history support the textual analysis. at p. 134.

7)  Only statutory terms that “unambiguously evince[ ] an underlying promissory, contractual legislative intent” (cite omitted) become part of a statutory contract. at p. 136.

8)     Courts disfavor holding that a statute is repealed by implication. at p. 137.

9)   Changes in the bill as it moves through the legislative process provide clues as to legislative intent. at p. 137.

10)   Respondents’ textual arguments place too much emphasis on specific words used. at p. 152.

11)  Much of the legislative history presents generalities about the overall intent of the legislation, which is of little help in discerning the precise parameters of a certain section. at p. 154.

12)   The PERS reform legislation changed frequently during the session, and, legislative history addressing versions of the bill the legislature did not enact are of little use. at p. 155.

13)   The legislative history directly relevant to Section 14b “is confusing and conflicting, and in any event, not enlightening.” Thus, it is entitled to little weight. at pp. 155-56.

14)   Cardinal rule of statutory construction that Courts are to avoid statutory interpretations that render parts of the statute redundant is not applicable here as the two statutory provisions are addressed to different concerns, one section looking forward and the other looking back. at pp. 156-57.

15)   Originally, the bill said the methods of recovering overpayment were “in lieu of, and not in addition to” any other authority available to PERB. Fact that the legislature deleted this language is insufficient to overcome the clear meaning of the mandatory term that PERS “shall” use the new methods. at pp. 158-59.

16)   Section 14b of the relevant bill stated that PERB “shall” use one of the two methods set out therein to recover overpayments. Fact that neither method will allow for total recovery is unimportant. The Court will not redraft statute even to avoid absurd results. at pp. 159-60.

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