It's not everyday you see a nearly half-a-billion-dollar lawsuit. But one was recently filed in Harris County district court against the state agency responsible for issuing retired public school teachers their benefits and for managing the retirement fund's assets.
The Teacher Retirement System of Texas posts in its website that one of its purposes is to "prudently invest and manage the assets held in trust for members" in "accordance with applicable fiduciary principles."
Pearland attorney Donald Wilhelm and his cadre of clients, including a teacher at Clear Creek ISD, are calling bullshit.
According to the lawsuit, the agency lost $415,383,006 of the fund's money through "risky investments," including derivatives.
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Wilhelm tells Hair Balls that he believes that some of the agency trustees, who he says work at investment firms, took the fund's money and invested it in their company's interests, a clear conflict of interest.
"You can't just take the teachers' money and put it with your people." he says, "and then invest it in something that isn't secure for the teachers. Teachers don't earn that much and the last time I checked half-a-billion dollars was still a lot of money."
Wilhelm is trying to get his case certified as a class action "so I can help the 1.2 million teachers in this state and their beneficiaries get back all the money back that these guys squandered," he says.
Wilhelm says the agency has not yet been served and does not know who the opposing attorneys will be.