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Joseph J. Mezyk, et al., Individually, and On Behalf of All Those v. U.S. Bank Pension Plan and U.S. Bancorp

December 21, 2011

JOSEPH J. MEZYK, ET AL., INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF ALL THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
U.S. BANK PENSION PLAN AND U.S. BANCORP, INC., DEFENDANTS.
THOMAS L. PELLETT, ET AL., INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
U.S. BANK PENSION PLAN, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiffs' motion for additional class certification (Doc. 114). Defendants U.S. Bank Pension Plan and U.S. Bancorp, Inc. (collectively, "U.S. Bank") have responded to the motion (Doc. 118).In that response U.S. Bank asks the Court to reconsider parts of its February 11, 2011, decision to certify Classes 1 and 2. Specifically, it asks the Court to decertify Class 1 for Counts I, II, III and IV and to decertify Class 2 for Count X. The Court has set a hearing on the motion for additional class certification but would like to rule on these requests for decertification before the hearing in order to narrow the issues to be addressed at the hearing.

I. Background

This matter involves provisions in the Mercantile Bancorporation Inc. ("Mercantile") Retirement Plan ("Plan"), a predecessor of the U.S. Bank Pension Plan,*fn1 that governed the transition between Mercantile's prior traditional "final average pay" defined benefit pension plan to a cash balance defined benefit pension plan on December 31, 1998. Relevant details of the plan conversion are set forth in the Court's February 11, 2011, order (Doc. 96) and need not be repeated here.

In the Consolidated Complaint (Doc. 64), the plaintiffs pled six causes of action:

* Count I ("notice claim"): the Plan failed to give adequate notice of a plan amendment that significantly reduces the rate of future benefit accruals as required by the version of § 204(h) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1054(h), that was effective at the time of conversion;

* Count II ("summary plan description ("SPD") claim"): the SPD distributed with the notice provided a misleading and inaccurate description of certain Plan terms, in violation of the version of § 102 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1022, that was effective at the time of conversion;

* Counts III and IV ("anti-cutback discount rate claims"): the Plan used a discount rate that exceeded the rate set forth in § 417(e)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code ("IRC"), 26 U.S.C. § 417(e)(3), when it calculated the opening cash balances, in violation of the prohibition on decreasing a participant's accrued benefit by a plan amendment as set forth in § 204(g) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1054(g); and

* Counts V and VI ("age discrimination claims"): the Plan applied a higher discount rate to participants 45 years old and older in violation of the prohibition on a cessation or reduction in the rate at which an employee accrues benefits on account of age as set forth in § 204(b)(1)(H)(i) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1054(b)(1)(H)(i).

On February 11, 2011, the Court certified the following classes: Class 1 (for Counts I, II, III and IV of the Consolidated Complaint): All current and vested former U.S. Bank Pension Plan participants, and their beneficiaries, who accrued benefits prior to January 1, 1999, and who had active cash balance accounts on and after January 1, 1999.

Class 2 (for Counts V and VI of the Consolidated Complaint): All current and vested former U.S. Bank Pension Plan participants age 45 and older as of January 1, 1999, and their beneficiaries, who accrued benefits prior to January 1, 1999, and who had active cash balance accounts on and after January 1, 1999.

Excluded from the Class 1 and Class 2 are Edward W. Sunder III; Louis R. Jarodsky; Eileen Chamberlain; Defendants' legal counsel (including members of Defendants' legal department); and any judge assigned to this case and any member of such judge's immediate family.

The First Amended Consolidated Complaint renumbered the prior Counts V and VI as Counts IX and X. Henceforward, the Court will refer to these claims as they are set forth ...


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