The opinion of the court was delivered by: Grady, Chief Judge.
In 1978, Walter Kaszuk died after suffering a massive heart
attack while vacationing in Arizona. He was 63 years old. At
the time of his death Kaszuk was, as he had been for 23 years,
employed by the National Biscuit Company ("Nabisco") in
Chicago, where he worked as a dough mixer. Surviving Mr.
Kaszuk was his wife of many years, Josephine Kaszuk.
Shortly after the death of her husband, Mrs. Kaszuk filed an
application for benefits with the defendant, Bakery and
Confectionary Union and Industry International
Pension Fund ("the Fund").*fn1 Mrs. Kaszuk believed she was
entitled to survivorship benefits because Walter had
contributed to and been a participant in the Fund for over 21
of his 23 years with Nabisco.
The Fund denied Mrs. Kaszuk's application, explaining that
she was ineligible for benefits because, inter alia, her
husband had never elected coverage in the Fund's pre-retirement
husband and wife pension plan (the "pre-retirement
pension").*fn2 After exhausting intra-Fund appeal remedies,
Mrs. Kaszuk filed this lawsuit. Her complaint, brought under
29 U.S.C. § 1132, alleges that Mr. Kaszuk failed to elect the
pre-retirement pension only because the Fund failed to notify
him adequately of the pension's election procedures.*fn3 Mrs.
Kaszuk claims that the Fund's failure to provide adequate
notice to Fund participants violated certain fiduciary
obligations set forth in the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Had the Fund
met its obligations and properly advised Mr. Kaszuk of the
election procedures, according to the complaint, Walter Kaszuk
would have made the necessary election, Mrs. Kaszuk would have
received benefits when he died, and the pension would not have
Plaintiff has moved for partial summary judgment under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, arguing that the notice provided to Mr.
Kaszuk was inadequate as a matter of law, and that the Fund
therefore violated its fiduciary duties. The Fund has
cross-moved for summary judgment, asserting that it satisfied
all of its obligations to Fund participants, including that of
giving adequate notice of the availability of and procedures
for electing the pre-retirement pension.
Because the central issue in this case revolves around the
adequacy of notice provided by the Fund concerning the
pre-retirement pension, it is necessary to set forth in some
detail the Fund's efforts in this regard.
The first action taken by the Fund to notify participants of
the availability of and procedures for electing the pension
came in fall of 1976, when the Fund placed an advertisement in
the October 1976 issue of the B & C News, the newspaper of the
union to which Mr. Kaszuk and his co-workers belonged. The ad,
which comprised one and one-half columns, appeared on page 7 of
the newspaper, and was captioned "Important Notice — Husband
and Wife Option." The ad explained that the pre-retirement
pension had become available on June 1, 1976, and discussed how
the pension worked, and how it was to be elected. Although
portions of the ad are easily understood, other parts appear to
be quite confusing.
Finally, the Fund provided notice of the election procedures
in a "Summary Description Booklet" prepared in 1978. It is
disputed whether Mr. Kaszuk ever received this booklet, as it
was not available to employees until late summer 1978, close
to the time Kaszuk died.*fn4
Plaintiff's claim is premised on the notion that the Fund
breached a fiduciary obligation to inform Fund participants in
a meaningful way of the steps which must be taken to elect the
pre-retirement pension. In arguing that the Fund had such an
obligation, plaintiff relies on 29 U.S.C. § 1104 ("§ 1104"),
which provides that fiduciaries such as fund administrators
. discharge [their] duties with respect to a
plan solely in the interest of the participants
and beneficiaries and —
(A) for the exclusive purpose of:
(i) providing benefits to participants and