The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mihm, District Judge.
On June 21, 1988, this Court conducted oral argument on
Plaintiffs' Motion to Dismiss Defendant's Counterclaim. At
that time, the Court orally granted said Motion, and indicated
that a written order would follow. This is that order.
1. This is a lawsuit filed under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA") by a group of former employees of
Caterpillar, Inc. Plaintiffs allege that their jobs were
targeted for elimination by Caterpillar on the basis of their
age and that they were in effect forced to retire or otherwise
to terminate their employment by Caterpillar. Among other
things, Plaintiffs allege that purported releases were
obtained from them in the course of securing their departure
from Caterpillar's employment. Plaintiffs allege on various
factual and legal grounds that these releases are of no legal
effect. Their complaint affirmatively asks this Court to
invalidate these purported releases.
2. Caterpillar has filed a Counterclaim alleging that the
releases are valid, and that by filing this lawsuit the
Plaintiffs have breached the contract with Caterpillar
allegedly embodied in these releases. The Counterclaim asserts
that this alleged breach has damaged Caterpillar at least in
the amount of the special payments that have been rendered to
Plaintiffs pursuant to the "Statements" that contain the
release language. Each Plaintiff signed such a Statement at
the time of his or her departure from Caterpillar's
employment. Caterpillar's Counterclaim asks that the Court
award it damages against each Plaintiff for breach of contract
in the amount of all payments previously made under the terms
of these "Statements;" that the Court declare that Caterpillar
need make no future payments under those Statements; and that
the Court award Caterpillar the fees and costs incurred in
defending this litigation.
3. Plaintiffs have moved to dismiss the Counterclaim
pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim
on which relief can be granted.
4. At the time of their separation from the Company, each
Plaintiff received certain financial benefits. At the same
time, each Plaintiff signed a purported release, relied on by
Caterpillar as the heart of their Counterclaim, which reads as
In consideration of receiving the special
arrangement as described above, I release and
forever discharge Caterpillar, Inc., and its
subsidiaries, of and from any and all claims,
causes of action, damages and liabilities whether
or not known, suspected or claimed by me which I
may have relating to my retirement from active
employment or which are related to any act,
course or thing which could have been alleged in
any action based upon such employment.
5. Caterpillar's Counterclaim does not assert that
Plaintiffs have filed their complaint in bad faith, or that
Plaintiffs' attack on the validity of the releases is made in
bad faith. Neither has Caterpillar made any such assertion in
the brief it has filed defending its Counterclaim.
6. The Court has reviewed the thorough briefs filed by the
parties on this motion and heard extensive oral argument on
June 21, 1988.
1. This Court has jurisdiction of Caterpillar's Counterclaim
pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. 13(a). The Counterclaim is clearly a
"compulsory counterclaim" within the meaning of that rule and
the cases interpreting it. Accordingly, no independent basis
of federal jurisdiction is required to support it.
2. For purposes of this Motion to Dismiss, it is assumed
that the facts asserted in Defendant's Counterclaim are true.
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