APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT
533 N.E.2d 537, 178 Ill. App. 3d 614, 127 Ill. Dec. 665 1989.IL.14
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Thomas G. Ebel, Judge, presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE STOUDER delivered the opinion of the court. HEIPLE and SCOTT, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE STOUDER
Jerald Homan brought this action in the circuit court of Peoria County against the administrators of the Pabst Peoria Brewery Workers Pension Plan to recover benefits allegedly due him under the plan and to reinstate his service credit for the years that he worked for Pabst prior to 1959. The administrators denied that Homan was due any benefit under the plan other than that which had already been declared for him. Both parties motioned for summary judgment, and the trial court entered judgment in favor of the administrators. When Homan's motion for reconsideration was denied, he brought this appeal.
Preliminarily, we note that Homan's action is brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (1982)). ERISA provides that a pension plan participant may bring a civil action to recover benefits due him under the plan and to clarify or enforce his rights under the plan. (29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(b) (1982).) ERISA further provides that State courts have concurrent jurisdiction to resolve such matters. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(1) (1982).
A denial of pension benefits will not be disturbed under ERISA unless the administrators' action is shown to be arbitrary or capricious, which is to say that they "overlooked something important or seriously erred in appreciating the significance of the evidence." (Pokratz v. Jones Dairy Farm (7th Cir. 1985), 771 F.2d 206, 208-09.) The issue presented by this summary judgment then, is whether, as a matter of law, the administrators of the plan acted improperly in determining the pension benefit to be awarded to Homan.
Homan argues that his monthly benefit of either $247.64, if he receives his pension beginning at age 55, or of $491.34, if he receives his pension beginning at age 65, is inadequate because he was improperly denied service credit for his employment from the years of 1952-55. Pabst's employment record of Homan provides the following information concerning Homan's work experience with Pabst:
Employment Dates Dept. Reason for Termination
7-3-52 to 8-28-52 Bottle Quit, School
5-28-53 to 7-30-53 Bottle Quit, School
9-1-53 to 10-29-53 Bottle Laid off, lack of work
4-14-54 to 8-2-54 Bottle Laid off, ...