The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMILLEN, District Judge.
DECISION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE AMENDED
Both parties have filed motions for summary judgment on the
Amended Complaint. Plaintiffs brought this action contesting
certain amendments to the Local 710 pension plan, effective
February 1, 1976. This case has been certified as a class action
pursuant to F.R.C.P. 23(b)(2). Plaintiffs contend that the
amendments violate the requirements of E.R.I.S.A. and the
trustees' fiduciary duties thereunder. The motions raise solely
questions of law.
The court rejects defendants' preliminary challenges to
plaintiffs' right to bring this action, as well as defendants'
suggested standard of review. Plaintiffs' standing to sue as
participants in the plan is created by 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3). We
also hold that if the plan amendments violate E.R.I.S.A.
requirements, then defendants' official actions are arbitrary and
capricious as a matter of law. Thus we deal with plaintiffs'
contentions seriatim on the merits, as follows.
1. The alteration of the "normal retirement age" from 57 to 65.
The old plan defined an employee's normal retirement date as the
date when he attained his 57th birthday or otherwise became
eligible for retirement benefits. Under § 1.16 of the new plan,
normal retirement age is 65, "or if later," the participant's age
on the tenth anniversary of his participation. Thus the normal
retirement date under the new plan is the first day of the month
following the participant's attainment of "normal retirement
age," per § 1.17.
The crucial phrase "normal retirement age" is defined in
E.R.I.S.A. at 29 U.S.C. § 1002(24) and in the Internal Revenue
Code at 26 U.S.C. § 411(a)(8). It is the earlier of
(A) the time a plan participant attains normal
retirement age under the plan, or
(i) the time a plan participant attains age 65, or
(ii) the tenth anniversary of the time a plan
participant commenced participation in the plan.
Defendants contend that the definition in § 1.16 of the new plan
is controlling, while plaintiffs contend that "normal retirement
age" has acquired a technical meaning under this plan as a whole
and that age 57 should be retained.
Absent a clearly expressed legislative intention to the
contrary, the statutory language must ordinarily be regarded as
conclusive. See Consumer Product Safety Commission v. GTE
Sylvania, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 100 S.Ct. 2051, 2055-2056, 64
L.Ed.2d 766 (1980). The legislative history here confirms, rather
than detracts from, defendants' position. The House Ways and
Means Committee Report twice declares that a given plan will
define the normal retirement age, subject to the statutory
limitations. 1974 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News, pp. 4639, 4670, 4687,
4726. The House Conference Report is to the same effect:
. . In general, the accrued benefit is to be
defined in terms of the benefit payable at normal
retirement age. Normal retirement age is generally to
be the age specified under the plan. However, it may
not be later than age 65 or the tenth anniversary
of the time the participant commenced
participation, whichever last occurs.
1974 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News pp. 5038, 5054-55.
Defendants' position is also consistent with the interpretation
adopted by the agency charged with the responsibility to
administer these new statutory provisions. Cf. Zenith Radio Corp.
v. United States, 437 U.S. 443, 450-51, 98 S.Ct. 2441, 2445-2446,
57 L.Ed.2d 337 (1978). Department of Treasury Regulation 26
C.F.R. (1979) § 1.411(a)-7(b) is squarely supportive of ...