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MEREDITH v. ALLSTEEL

November 2, 1992

DAVID L. MEREDITH, JOHN GUDDENDORF, IVAR KIZANS, LEON E. STRATMAN, JERRY ANDERSON, PHILBERT PARR, ROBERT MACY, ROGER McCRIMMON, FRANK GUDDENDORF, EDGAR MIDDLETON, CLAUDE E. WALTON, JOE STRATMAN, HOWARD D. MASON, JAMES A. ORR, TOM KIPPER, DONALD E. VANHEERDE, IVAN WILEY, EUGENE DUMAS, BILL McCURLEY, CARALINE JOHNSTON, WALT TOOLEY, NICK DERESKI, and OLAF GJERDE, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLSTEEL, INC. and DAN T. COSGROVE, in his capacity as Plan Administrator, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN E. ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge:

 Plaintiffs, David Meredith et al., ("plaintiffs"), bring this suit against Allsteel, Inc. ("Allsteel") and Dan T. Cosgrove ("Cosgrove") (collectively "defendants") alleging violations of various sections of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") and § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"). Both the plaintiffs and defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 12 of the Local Rules for the Northern District of Illinois. Additionally, defendants have moved to strike plaintiffs' reply to defendants' statement of undisputed material facts. For the reasons outlined below, we deny plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, and grant defendants' motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

 I. Summary Judgment Standard

 Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment should be denied "where there is reason to believe that the better course would be to proceed to a full trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2513, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986).

 II. Factual Background

 Allsteel is an Illinois corporation which manufactures office furniture. Plaintiffs are members of Local 1239 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers ("Union"). Allsteel has engaged in collective bargaining with the Union since the 1940's and has negotiated numerous labor agreements. The current agreement ("Agreement") took effect on April 1, 1991 and runs through April 8, 1994.

 In addition to the labor agreements, Allsteel has had a pension plan applicable to Union members since January 1, 1971. The current plan ("Plan") took effect on August 1, 1974 and has been periodically revised. The Plan is subject to and governed by ERISA.

 The Plan outlines how to calculate an employee's Retirement Date. Under the Plan, an employee's Retirement Date is the first day of the month coinciding with or next following the date on which he retires. *fn1" On September 21, 1977, Allsteel issued a summary plan description ("SPD") which described the Plan to employees and stated that an employee's "normal retirement date is the first day of the month after [s/he has] attained age 65 and completed 10 years Service." 1977 SPD at pp. 1-2.

 The Plan also outlines what benefits an employee will receive upon retirement. In 1988, Allsteel and the Union negotiated an increase in the amount of pension supplements to be given eligible retired employees. Supplement A, which codified this agreement, provides for $ 600 and $ 900 pension supplements as follows:

 (a) Any Member who retires on or after January 1, 1985, but before April 1, 1991 shall be entitled to a supplemental benefit for the month in which he retires and each month thereafter while he is living during the payment period in the amount of $ 600 until such Member attains age 65.

 (b) Any Member who retires on or after April 1, 1988 shall be entitled to a supplemental benefit commencing on July 1, 1988 or at later retirement and for each month thereafter while he is living during the payment period in the amount of $ 900 until such Member attains age 65.

 Supp. A at p. 2.

 In 1991 Allsteel negotiated the current Agreement with the Union. Exhibit F to that Agreement was designed to extend the supplemental benefits articulated in Supplement A. While the benefits outlined in Supplement A were to end on March 31, 1991, Exhibit F ensures that eligible retirees receive supplemental benefits until they turn 65, regardless of whether that event takes place before March 31, 1991. *fn2"

 At times ranging from 1986 to March, 1991, plaintiffs David L. Meredith, Frank Guddendorf, John Guddendorf, Claude Walton, Jerry Anderson, and Roger McCrimmon informed Allsteel that they intended to retire and asked for estimates of their pension benefits. In estimating each employee's benefits, Allsteel calculated the retirement dates to be the first day of the month following the last day worked. Allsteel informed those employees who expressed an interest in retiring in March, 1991, that they ...


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