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SALAMOUNI v. DAIWA BANK

June 9, 1997

ANDRE SALAMOUNI, Plaintiff,
v.
THE DAIWA BANK, LIMITED, and WSR SERVICING COMPANY, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Plaintiff Andre Salamouni ("Salamouni") is suing for retirement medical benefits. Before the court is the motion for partial summary judgment of Defendants. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

 I. FACTS *fn1"

 Salamouni worked in the commercial banking division at Lloyds Bank PLC ("Lloyds") for approximately twenty years. There, Salamouni participated in a variety of employee benefit plans, including Lloyds' medical benefits program. Lloyds offered its medical benefits program to both active and retired employees through its health insurance carrier, The Equitable Life Assurance Society ("Equitable"). A series of insurance booklets outlined the Lloyds program, the last booklet being published in 1987 ("Lloyds 1987 booklet"). All Lloyds program participants received the Lloyds 1987 booklet, including Salamouni. The Lloyds program provided coverage to employees as follows: "All full time U.S. employees and Expatriates in the North America Head Office except those who normally work less than 20 hours per week." (Salamouni 12(N) Ex. F.)

 Regarding retirement, the relevant portion of the Lloyds 1987 booklet states:

 
BENEFITS FOR RETIRED EMPLOYEES/ACTIVE OR RETIRED EMPLOYEES AGE 65 OR OVER
 
When an insured individual under age 65 retires, Medical Care Benefits, Major Medical and Dental Benefits described in this booklet will continue to apply for retired employees and their eligible dependents.
 
* * *
 
When an insured Active or Retired employee attains age 65, the Major Medical and Dental Benefits described in this booklet will continue except that the benefits will be coordinated with Medicare.

 (Salamouni Dep. Ex. 1 at 6.)

 Regarding termination of medical benefits, the Lloyds 1987 booklet states:

 
WHEN INSURANCE ENDS
 
(a) you leave our employ.
 
(b) you are no longer eligible.
 
(c) the Group Policy ceases.
 
A dependent's insurance ends when any of the following events occurs:
 
(a) your insurance ends.
 
(b) the dependent is no longer an eligible dependent.

 (Salamouni Dep. Ex. 1 at 8.)

 The Lloyds 1987 booklet contained no statement that medical benefits, including those available to retirees, were vested, could not change, or otherwise would be available for the lifetime of participants. Salamouni understood that the Lloyds program could be amended, modified, or terminated at Lloyds' sole discretion. During the years of Salamouni's employment, Lloyds periodically and unilaterally adjusted the deductible and premium levels under the Lloyds program; those were the only changes made during the time Salamouni worked for Lloyds.

 Other than annual memoranda announcing those changes, and a 1988 letter offering early retirement, the Lloyds 1987 booklet and its predecessors were the only documents which Salamouni ever received from Lloyds explaining the terms of its program. Salamouni had only two discussions with Lloyds officials regarding the terms of the Lloyds 1987 booklet. The first was with his supervisor, Peter Ellis; and the second was with Lloyds' personnel manager, James Hinchey ("Hinchey").

 In May 1988, Salamouni received the letter, from Hinchey, offering him early retirement. The letter explained the benefits under an early retirement program which Lloyds offered to staff members of a certain age in anticipation of Lloyds' disposing of its United States commercial banking operation. Under the early retirement program, medical benefits would be the same as those provided to active employees. Regarding the medical benefits, Hinchey wrote:

 
You will be able to continue your coverage under the Equitable Health Plan, and your monthly contribution effective June 1, 1988 ...

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