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Teufel v. Northern Trust Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 6, 2017

JAMES P. TEUFEL, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
THE NORTHERN TRUST COMPANY, THE NORTHERN TRUST COMPANY PENSION PLAN, THE NORTHERN TRUST COMPANY EMPLOYEE BENEFIT ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE, KATIE O'NEILL, KIM SOPPI, BOB CHAPELLE, YUAN CHEN, AMYRE COLEMAN, HEATHER HESTON, DAWN ROMEI, MARK SULLIVAN, MARK WELCH, DIANE HUGHES, and CHANDRA WILENSKY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN W. DARRAH United States District Court Judge

         On March 20, 2016, Plaintiff James P. Teufel filed a Second Amended Complaint against Defendants The Northern Trust Company, The Northern Trust Company Pension Plan, The Northern Trust Company Employee Benefit Administrative Committee, Katie O'Neill, Kim Soppi, Bob Chapelle, Yuan Chen, Amyre Coleman, Heather Heston, Dawn Romei, Mark Sullivan, Mark Welch, Diane Hughes, and Chandra Wilensky, pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001, et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq., on behalf of himself and other participants in The Northern Trust Company Pension Plan. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss [66]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion [66] is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         The following is taken from Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, which is assumed to be true for purposes of a motion to dismiss. See Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 592 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Plaintiff resides in Cook County, Illinois. Plaintiff is an employee of The Northern Trust Company and a participant in The Northern Trust Company Pension Plan (the “Plan”). (Compl. ¶ 1.) Defendant The Northern Trust Company (“Northern”) is an Illinois banking corporation with its principal place of business located in Chicago, Illinois. Northern is the sponsor of the Plan within the meaning of ERISA Section 3(16)(B), 29 U.S.C. § 1002(16)(B), the trustee of the Pension Trust, and the fiduciary of the Plan. (Compl. ¶ 2.) The Plan is a defined benefit pension plan within the meaning of ERISA. Defendant The Northern Trust Company Employee Benefit Administrative Committee (the “Benefit Committee”) is the named Plan Administrator and named Plan Fiduciary. Defendants Katie O'Neill, Kim Soppi, Bob Chapelle, Yuan Chen, Amyre Coleman, Heather Heston, Dawn Romei, Mark Sullivan, Mark Welch, Diane Hughes, and Chandra Wilensky (“Committee Members”) are, or were, members of the Benefit Committee and Plan fiduciaries during the relevant period. Plaintiff asserts claims under ERISA and ADEA against Northern, the Plan, the Benefit Committee, and the Committee Members.

         Plaintiff began his employment at Northern on or about March of 1998. Plaintiff became a participant in the Plan at that time. Over the course of Plaintiff's employment at Northern, his average annual compensation increases have exceeded 5.1 percent. Until 2002, the Plan provided defined pension benefits pursuant to a formula referred to as the “Traditional Benefit Formula.”

         In 2002, the Plan was amended to add a second formula, the Pension Equity Plan Benefit Formula (the “PEP Formula”), in addition to the Traditional Benefit Formula. Participants who already had an Accrued Benefit were permitted to choose which formula would apply to them going forward. Plaintiff chose the Traditional Benefit Formula. Effective April 1, 2012, Northern further amended the Plan by providing that no additional Credited Service would be recognized under the Traditional Formula (“2012 Amendment”). (Dkt. 42 ¶¶ 22-23.) Instead, a revised PEP Formula applied to all participants for all periods of service after March 31, 2012.

         On January 26, 2012, Northern issued a notice of the upcoming Plan changes to the Plan's participants. The notice stated:

If you are a Pension Plan participant who is currently under the Traditional Formula, your benefits earned after March 31, 2012 will be calculated under the Pension Equity Plan (PEP) Formula. This change will not impact benefits earned under the Traditional Formula through March 31, 2012.
• Credited service and eligible compensation under the Traditional Formula will be determined as of March 31, 2012.
• This eligible compensation, determined as of March 31, 2012, will be increased at a rate of 1.5% per year for the time period you continue to earn benefits under the Pension Plan.

(Dkt. 42-4 at 1.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 12(b)(6) permits a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). However, plaintiffs are not required to “plead the elements of a cause of action along with facts supporting each element.” Runnion ex rel. Runnion v. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Nw. Indiana, 786 F.3d 510, 517 (7th Cir. 2015). Rather, the complaint must provide a defendant “with ‘fair notice' of the claim and its basis.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting ...


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