Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

JANOWSKI v. INTERNATIONAL BROTH. OF TEAMSTERS

July 24, 1980

WILLIAM R. JANOWSKI AND ROBERT H. BARNHISEL, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS LOCAL NO. 710 PENSION FUND ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMILLEN, District Judge.

  DECISION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE AMENDED
                            COMPLAINT

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

(B) the later of —

(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.

The above definition permits the plan to fix a normal retirement age, subject to certain limitations. Section 1.16 of the new plan does just that. Accordingly, defendants are correct that age 65 is the normal retirement age under the new plan. See Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 U.S. 185, 197, 96 S.Ct. 1375, 1382-1383, 47 L.Ed.2d 668 (1976).

  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) ยง 1.411(a)-7(b) is squarely supportive of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.