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TAYLOR v. S.T. OF N. ILL. FRINGE BEN. F.

July 10, 1985

CHARLES E. TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUBURBAN TEAMSTERS OF NORTHERN ILLINOIS FRINGE BENEFIT FUNDS, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

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.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

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 Welfare Fund.

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 contributing employer.

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).

10. The June 1, 1981 Plan also specified eligibility criteria for retired employees of Contributing Employers. In pertinent part, the eligibility provision of the June 1, 1981 Basic Retirement Medical Expenses Benefits provided:

  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 a ...


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