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Mounts v. United Parcel Service of America

August 31, 2009

PAUL K. MOUNTS, SR., DOUGLAS P. CHAPMAN, AND CARL KATARZYNSKI PLAINTIFFS,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE OF AMERICA, INC. AND UPS HEALTH AND WELFARE PACKAGE FOR RETIRED EMPLOYEES DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Paul Mounts ("Mounts"), Douglas Chapman ("Chapman") and Carl Katarzynski ("Katarzynski") (collectively "Plaintiffs") filed suit against Defendants United Parcel Service of America, Inc. ("UPS") and UPS Health and Welfare Package for Retired Employees ("the Plan") (collectively "Defendants") alleging violations of federal employment discrimination laws. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), Defendants have moved to dismiss all claims. For the reasons stated, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

The Court takes the following allegations as true, as it is required to do at the motion to dismiss stage. See Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995). Plaintiffs, retired Feeder Drivers for UPS, formed an independent organization to assist current and retired UPS employees file complaints with the EEOC and secure their medical and retirement benefits from UPS. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-16.) Because of their efforts, numerous UPS employees received charges of discrimination from the EEOC and benefits that UPS had previously denied them. (Compl. ¶ 17.) During a 2001 meeting, UPS representatives pressured Chapman and Katarzynski to stop contacting federal agencies on behalf of UPS employees and to stop assisting UPS employees with charges of discrimination and complaints relating to medical and retirement benefits. (Compl. ¶¶ 18-19.) Despite the pressure they received from UPS representatives, Plaintiffs continued to offer their support to UPS employees filing charges and claims. (Compl. ¶ 20.)

Eventually, UPS informed Chapman and his wife that they were no longer eligible for coverage under the Plan's group health insurance plan. (Compl. ¶ 21.) On January 17, 2003, Chapman filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, claiming that Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his disability and that they retaliated against him in violation of the ADA, ADEA and Title VII. (Compl. Ex. 2.) Mounts and Katarzynski assisted with the investigation into Chapman's charge of discrimination. (Compl. ¶ 24.) In April 2003, Chapman and UPS participated in an EEOC-sponsored mediation of his charge of discrimination but they did not resolve their dispute. (Compl. ¶ 25.)

Several weeks after the mediation, Defendants removed Mounts and Katarzynski from the Plan. (Compl. ¶ 27.) Chapman, Mounts and Katarzynski all contested their removal from the Plan but Defendants refused to reinstate them or grant them benefits under the Plan. (Compl. ¶ 28.) Mounts and Katarzynski each filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC on October 29, 2003. (Compl. Exs. 1, 3.)

After receiving their right to sue letters from the EEOC, Plaintiffs filed this action, alleging discrimination under the ADA and the ADEA, retaliation under Title VII, the ADA and the ADEA and violations of ERISA. Defendants have moved to dismiss, claiming that: 1) all ERISA claims are time-barred; 2) Chapman's claims in Counts I-III are time-barred; and 3) Plaintiffs have not satisfied the minimum federal pleading standards for their ADA, ADEA and Title VII claims. After Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their ERISA claim arising under 29 U.S.C. § 1140 with prejudice.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint and construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Murphy, 51 F.3d at 717. To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff need not allege all facts involved in the claim. See Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry & Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994). However, in order to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the claim must be supported by facts that, if taken as true, at least plausibly suggest that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). Such a set of facts must "raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence" of illegality. Id. at 1965.

DISCUSSION

I. Timeliness of Plaintiffs' ERISA Claims

As previously noted, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claim arising under 29 U.S.C. § 1140 with prejudice. In the remaining ERISA claim, Plaintiffs bring a breach of fiduciary duty claim under 29 U.S.C. § 1332. Once a plaintiff has actual knowledge of a breach of fiduciary duty, he has three years to bring an ERISA claim to remedy the breach. See 29 U.S.C. § 1113(2); S. Ill. Carpenters Welfare Fund v. Carpenters Welfare Fund of Ill., 326 F.3d 919, 924 (7th Cir. 2003). Here, at the latest, Plaintiffs all had actual knowledge that they had been removed from the Plan in 2003 when they filed their charges of discrimination with the EEOC. They did not file this action until 2009, after the three year limitations period for breach of fiduciary duty claims under ERISA expired.

While Plaintiffs concede that they filed suit outside of the three year limitations period, they claim that the Court should equitably toll the statute of limitations because EEOC inaction lulled them into inaction. Although Plaintiffs filed their charge of discrimination in 2003 for their ADA, ADEA and Title VII claims and the EEOC issued its determination in September 2006, they did not receive their right to sue letters until December 2008, when the three year limitations period for the ERISA claim had already expired. Equitable tolling applies when the plaintiff "has made a good faith error (e.g., brought suit in the wrong court) or has been prevented from filing his complaint in time." Threadgill v. Moore U.S.A., Inc., 269 F.3d 848, 850 (7th Cir. 2001). When plaintiffs bring some claims that require exhaustion of administrative remedies as a prerequisite to suit and other claims that do not, participating in the administrative process for some claims does not operate to toll the statute of limitations for the claims that do not require exhaustion. See Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 465-66 (1975) (pendency of Title VII administrative process does not toll statute of limitations for employment discrimination suits brought under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1981); Hermann v. Cencom Cable Assocs., Inc., 999 F.2d 223, 225 (7th Cir. 1993) (detailing options available to plaintiffs participating in the EEOC administrative process while the statute of ...


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