United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge
the Court is Plaintiffs' motion to reconsider or revise
 the Court's memorandum opinion and order of
September 29, 2015 granting in part and denying in part
Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment . For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants Plaintiffs'
motion to reconsider .
in 1995, Plaintiffs' employer, General Produce
Distributors, Inc., participated in the Professional Benefit
Multiple Employer Welfare Benefit Plan & Trust
(“the PBT Trust”), which provided death and
living benefits to employees of participating employers.
, Maven's Add'l Facts ¶ 1-2. Plaintiffs
David and Therese Mintjal were beneficiaries of the Trust
between 1995 and 2006. Id. at 4. Defendant
Professional Benefit Trust, Ltd. (“PBT Ltd.”) was
the trustee of the PBT Trust, id. at 3, Defendant
PBT Administration, LLC (“PBT Administration”)
was the administrator, and a company called Professional and
Small Business Council Inc. was the trust sponsor. ,
Pls.' Mem. at 33. Tracy Sunderlage was the CEO and
Chairman of the PBT Trust. See, e.g., , Ex. 36.
Plaintiffs further alleged that Linda Sunderlage, Tracy's
wife and business partner, also was a fiduciary as she
exercised discretionary authority and had control over the
management of assets of the Trust. , SAC 7.
to its termination, the PBT Trust was a multiple employer
plan. The assets of the PBT Trust, including contributions by
participating employers, were held in a single pool. ,
SAC 5. At the end of the year, each participating employer
was designated a “beneficial interest” in the
Trust based on the pro rata of its investment or contribution
to the Trust. Id. at 6.
moved for summary judgment as to various alleged breaches of
fiduciary duties committed by Defendants. The alleged
breaches occurred in connection with three major events: (1)
the termination of the PBT Trust and General Produce's
decision to no longer participate in a new single employer
model with Maven, (2) certain loans that the PBT Trust made
to a West Indies company called Dufferin Capital, Ltd.
(“Dufferin”) in 2002 and 2004, and (3) a $2.16
million administrative fee that Tracy Sunderlage awarded
himself for administration of the PBT Trust. On September 29,
2015, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of
Plaintiffs on (1) the Sunderlages' liability for breaches
of their fiduciary duties with regard to the transactions
with Maven, (2) Maven's liability as a party in interest
in prohibited transactions with the named plan fiduciaries
PBT Administration and PBT Ltd., (3) the termination of the
PBT Trust, (4) the award of the $2, 163, 000 administrative
fee when the PBT Trust was terminated, and (5) SRG Inc. and
SRG International's liability for aiding and abetting the
breaches of fiduciary duties by Tracy Sunderlage. The Court
denied Plaintiffs' motion as to the 2002 and 2004 Loans
from the PBT Trust to Dufferin.
both Rules 54(b) and 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure Plaintiff now asks the Court to reconsider its
summary judgment ruling, arguing that the Court erred when it
determined that there was a genuine issue of material fact as
to whether Linda Sunderlage was a fiduciary of the PBT Trust
within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. §1002(21)(a) under the
PBT Trust. and when the Court denied summary judgment on the
claim that the 2002 and 2004 loans to Dufferin Capital were
prohibited transactions under 29 U.S.C. § 1106.
Defendants' responses were due on February 26, 2016, and
replies were due March 11, 2016. Defendants failed to file a
response, and presumably Plaintiffs stand on their opening
brief in support of their motion to reconsider.
“any order or other decision, however designated, that
adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and
liabilities of fewer than all the parties, ” Rule 54(b)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows the Court to
“revise at any time before the entry of a judgment
adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights
and liabilities.” Additionally, Rule 59(e) of Federal
Civil Procedure allows a party to direct the court's
attention to a “manifest error of law or fact or to
newly discovered evidence.” United States v.
Resnick, 594 F.3d 562, 568 (7th Cir. 2010). Essentially,
the rule allows “a district court to correct its own
errors, sparing the parties and the appellate courts the
burden of unnecessary appellate proceedings.”
Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of Gen. Motors Corp., 51
F.3d 746, 749 (7th Cir. 1995).
motion to reconsider asks a court to “reexamine its
decision in light of additional legal arguments, a change of
law, or perhaps an argument or aspect of the case which was
overlooked.” Ahmed v. Ashcroft, 388 F.3d 247,
249 (7th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation omitted); see also
Seng-Tiong Ho v. Taflove, 648 F.3d 489 (7th Cir.
2011) (explaining that a court can amend its judgment only if
the petitioner can demonstrate a manifest error of law or
present newly discovered evidence) (citation omitted);
U.S. v. Ligas, 549 F.3d 497, 501 (7th Cir. 2008).
However, its purpose is not “to enable a party to
complete presenting his case after the court has ruled
against him. Were such a procedure to be countenanced, some
lawsuits really might never end, rather than just seeming
endless.” Frietsch v. Refco, Inc., 56 F.3d
825, 828 (7th Cir. 1995); see also Oto v. Metropolitan
Life Insurance Company, 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir.
2000) (“A party may not use a motion for
reconsideration to introduce new evidence that could have
been presented earlier.”); Divane v. Krull Electric
Company, 194 F.3d 845, 850 (7th Cir. 1999); LB
Credit Corporation v. Resolution Trust Corporation, 49
F.3d 1263, 1267 (7th Cir. 1995). In regard to the manifest
error prong, the Seventh Circuit has explained that a motion
to reconsider is proper only when the Court has patently
misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the
adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or
has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension.
Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc.,
906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990).
Whether Linda Sunderlage Acted as a Fiduciary
argue that the Court committed a manifest error of law when
the Court failed to apply the appropriate clause of 29 U.S.C.
§ 1002(21)(a) in connection with its analysis of whether
Linda Sunderlage acted as a “fiduciary” for the
PBT Trust. In the Court's prior opinion , it
concluded that there was a disputed issue of material fact in
regard to whether Linda Sunderlage was a
“fiduciary” within the meaning of ERISA because
there was a lack of evidence that she “had any
discretionary authority or discretionary responsibility in
the administration of the plan” as required by the
first clause of 29 U.S.C. § 1002(21)(A)(1). 29 U.S.C.
§ 1002(21)(A)(1) reads as follows: “Except as
otherwise provided in subparagraph (B), a person is a
fiduciary with respect to a plan to the extent (i) he
exercises any discretionary authority or discretionary
control respecting management of such plan or exercises any
authority or control respecting management or disposition of
its assets.” Plaintiffs point out that the second
clause of subsection (1) of 29 U.S.C. § 1002(21)(a)
provides that a person who exercises “any”
authority or control over the management or disposition of
trust assets, including cash in the trust's bank
accounts, is considered to be a “fiduciary” when
exercising such authority or control, and no showing that the
person had discretion over the assets is required.
Board of Trustees of Bricklayers v. Wettlin Assocs.,
237 F.3d 270, 274 (3d. Cir. 2001), the Third Circuit pointed
out that the adjective “discretionary, ” which is
“so carefully selected for plan administration and
management, is omitted in subsection (i) when dealing with
authority or control over the management or disposition of
plan ‘assets.” Id. Accordingly, the
Third Circuit concluded that since “[t]he statute
treats control over the cash differently from control over
administration, ” discretionary responsibility over
control of assets is not required for an individual to be
deemed a fiduciary under 29 U.S.C. § 1002(21)(a). The
Third Circuit added that such a reading squares with the
Supreme Court's analysis in Pegram v. Herdrich,
530 U.S. 211, 231 (2000). “That Congress established a
lower threshold for fiduciary status where control of assets
is at stake is not ...