The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.
The above-captioned matter came before the Court for trial on
the merits of plaintiff's employee benefits claim. The Court,
having heard the testimony of witnesses on May 3, 1985, and
having reviewed the record and the exhibits submitted into
evidence by the parties, does hereby enter the following findings
of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Rule 52(a) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
1. The defendant is the Suburban Teamsters of Northern Illinois
Welfare Fund ("the Welfare Fund").
2. The Welfare Fund is a multi-employer employee benefit plan
within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1002(1) and (3).
3. This is an action by plaintiff for a declaratory judgment to
clarify his rights to benefits under the Welfare Fund. This Court
has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(1).
4. The Welfare Fund extends a variety of medical and insurance
benefits to eligible participants and their dependents according
to eligibility criteria and benefit amounts specified in a Plan
of Benefits ("the Plan").
5. Plaintiff, Charles E. Taylor, is a former participant in the
6. Plaintiff last worked for an employer making contributions
to the Welfare Fund on his behalf ("a contributing employer") on
or about August 18, 1981 when he was laid off.
7. Plaintiff's date of birth is December 24, 1927 and thus
plaintiff was 53 years old at the time he last worked for a
8. At the time plaintiff ceased working for a contributing
employer, the Welfare Fund's Plan of Benefits dated June 1, 1981
(Ex. 1) was in effect.
9. The June 1, 1981 Plan provided in Class S an option for
participants who left covered employment for various reasons,
including layoffs, to continue their participation in the Fund
and their eligibility for benefits under the Plan by making
self-contributions to the Fund. (Ex. 1, pp. 15-19, 57-67). In
addition to paying the self-contribution amounts specified in the
June 1, 1981 Plan (Ex. 1, pp. 62-67), coverage under Class S
required, among other things, a written application submitted to
the participant's union business office "not later than the 28th
consecutive day following the last date on which he or she worked
for a Contributing Employer . . ." (Ex. 1, p. 16, 63).
An employee who (1) has been eligible for benefits
under this Plan for 10 or more calendar years and who
has attained age 55, or, if later, has been eligible
for 10 or more calendar years preceding the date of
his or her retirement, (2) retired on or after June
1, 1981 while covered under Class A, B, C, D or S of
this Plan, and (3) has made written application to
the Trustees of the Welfare Fund for these Retiree
and Spouse benefits, and has been found by the
Trustees to have fulfilled all eligibility
requirements of this Plan, shall be eligible for
these Basic Retirement Medical Expense Benefits from
the date such application was accepted by the
Trustees. (Ex. 1, p. 79).
11. When he was laid off in August 1981, plaintiff was aware of
the requirement of self-contributions to maintain his
participation in the Fund. (R. 14).
12. Trustee Venard testified that he told the plaintiff in
August 1981 of the self-paid Class S and that the plaintiff could
receive retiree welfare benefits when he retired if he remained