Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BOWE BELL & HOWELL CO. v. IMMCO EMPLOYEES' ASSOC.

June 1, 2004.

BOWE BELL HOWELL COMPANY, Plaintiff, V. IMMCO EMPLOYEES' ASSOCIATION; JAMES YUKNA and ALBERT SPINOZZI, individually and as representatives of a defendant class of other similarly situated retirees; and RONALD BUCKLAND, individually and as a representative of a defendant class of other similarly situated retirees, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Bowe Bell Howell Company, filed a declaratory action against Defendants, Inserting and Mailing Machine Company ("IMMCO") Employees' Association; James Yukna and Albert Spinozzi; and Ronald Buckland. Plaintiff seeks a declaration that it was entitled to modify, amend, or terminate the medical benefits of the Retiree Classes in an Employee Retirement Security Act ("ERISA") Plan. Presently before the Court is IMMCO's Motion to Dismiss or, Alternatively, Motion to Transfer Venue to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. For the foregoing reasons, mat motion is denied. LEGAL STANDARD

In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court reviews all facts alleged in the complaint and any reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000). A plaintiff is not required to plead the facts or elements of a claim, with the exceptions found in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002); Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 1005, 1007 (7th Cir. 2002). Dismissal is warranted only if "it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957), The "suit should not be dismissed if it is possible to hypothesize facts, consistent with the complaint, that would make out a claim." Graehling v. Village of Lombard, Ill., 58 F.3d 295, 297 (7th Cir. 1995).

  BACKGROUND

  The facts, for the purposes of this motion, are taken as true from Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff is a Delaware corporation that manufactures mail and messaging equipment in facilities throughout the United States. Plaintiff is both a "plan sponsor" and a "fiduciary" of the Bell Howell Company Mail Processing Systems Division Blue Cross Health Insurance Plan (the "Plan"), formerly known as the Bell Howell Company Phillipsburg Division Blue Cross Health Insurance Plan. The Plan provides medical, dental, and vision benefits to certain groups of hourly and salaried retirees who were formerly employed at Plaintiffs Allentown, Pennsylvania facility.

  Defendant IMMCO is an unincorporated association with its headquarters in Easton, Pennsylvania. IMMCO is a labor organization that, until November 2001, represented and acted for certain hourly employees at the Allentown facility who participated in the Plan while those employees were employed by Plaintiff.

  Defendants Yukna and Spinozzi are former hourly employees at the Allentown facility. Yukna and Spinozzi received retiree medical benefits under the Plan since 2001. Yukna lives in Phillipsburg, New Jersey; and Spinozzi lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. These Defendants represent the hourly retiree class, which consists of approximately three-hundred individuals.

  Defendant Buckland is a former salaried employee at the Allentown facility. Buckland has received retiree medical benefits under the Plan since 1993. Buckland is a resident of Easton, Pennsylvania. Buckland represents the salaried retiree class, which consists of approximately seventy-five individuals.

  The retiree medical benefits for members of the salaried retiree class are governed by the Blue Cross/Blue Shield contract covering employees and retirees of Plaintiff. Prior to 1994, salaried employees at the Allentown facility became eligible for retiree medical benefits upon retirement if they were sixty-five years old and had five years of service. Salaried employees could also take early retirement at age sixty, if they had ten years of service, or at age fifty-five, if they had fifteen years of service. In all cases, salaried employees must have been on active duty immediately before retirement to obtain retiree medical coverage.

  The salaried retirees supplemental plan description states:

  Bell & Howell Company reserves the right in its sole discretion to determine the nature and amount of medical benefits, if any, that will be provided to those individuals who retire from employment with Bell & Howell Phillipsburg Company and their dependents. Bell & Howell also reserves the right in its sole discretion to reduce, modify or terminate medical benefits provided to retired employees and their dependants at any time. The supplemental plan description also states that "Bell & Howell Company reserves the right to change or modify the contribution level at any time."

  Plaintiff amended the Plan, effective January 1, 1994, with respect to salaried employees at the Allentown facility. For eligible salaried employees retiring on or after January 1, 1994, the Plan was amended as follows: (1) coverage under the Plan terminated for all retirees at age sixty-five; (2) Dental benefit coverage ceased for dependents of early retirees; (3) to be eligible for retiree coverage upon early retirement, salaried employees were required to have ten additional years of service than previously required; (4) those eligible for benefits upon early retirement at age sixty were required to pay 50% of the total cost of their coverage under the Plan up to age sixty-five; (5) those eligible for benefits upon early retirement at age fifty-five were required to pay 100% of the total cost of their coverage under the Plan up to age sixty-five; and (6) early retirees must pay 100% of the total cost of coverage for their eligible spouses and dependents. No member of the salaried retiree class formally challenged or contested Plaintiff's decision to change the terms and administration of the Plan at that time.

  Before November 26, 2001, active hourly employees at the Allentown facility were represented by IMMCO for collective bargaining purposes. Through its representation, IMMCO and Plaintiff's predecessors agreed to a Supplemental Pension Plan Agreement in 1966, which provided that hourly employees would receive hospitalization insurance benefits upon their retirement. This agreement was restated three times after 1966, most recently in 1983.

  The Supplemental Agreement in 1983 contained the following provisions for amendment or termination of the Agreement: Unless such notice is given this agreement shall be automatically renewed on June 1, 1985, and each June 1 thereafter for successive one-year periods, subject to the right on the part of either party to give similar notice of its desire to modify, amend, or terminate this agreement and to negotiate with respect to matters covered by this agreement before the end of any such extension period. No negotiations with respect to any matters covered by this agreement shall begin before 60 days prior to the expiration of any period during which this agreement is effective, and during any such negotiations this agreement ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.