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HARDY v. H. K. PORTER CO.

July 16, 1976

William J. HARDY et al.
v.
H. K. PORTER COMPANY, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HANNUM

 HANNUM, District Judge.

 Plaintiffs are former employees of defendant who were discharged when defendant closed one of its plant facilities. They have instituted this lawsuit to recover pension benefits under a non-contributory, salaried employees pension plan maintained by defendant. Plaintiffs premise their right to recovery on a four count complaint, the essential allegations of which are summarized as follows: (1) defendant was unjustly enriched by the discharge of plaintiffs and the resulting forfeiture of plaintiffs' pension benefits; (2) the discharge of plaintiffs was a "mass separation" governed by the express terms of the pension plan; (3) the discharge of plaintiffs was a "partial termination" of the pension plan in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code; and (4) defendant administered the terms of the pension plan in a discriminatory manner.

 Having heard the testimony of the witnesses for the plaintiffs and for the defendants during a three day trial before the Court without a jury, and on the basis of the pleadings, the stipulations and exhibits of the parties, the Court enters the following Findings of Fact, Discussion, and Conclusions of Law:

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1(a). Defendant, H. K. Porter Company, Inc., ("Porter" herein), is a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware, doing business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with its principal place of business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 1(b). William J. Hardy, John W. Mathieson, Arthur H. Naylor, George Pierson and Frank H. Schreiber, Jr., are citizens of the State of New Jersey. Harry Edward Fritz is a citizen of the State of Ohio. Earle Freeman Webster is a citizen of the State of Georgia.

 2. On or about January 1, 1950, Porter acquired, by purchase, the Quaker Rubber Corporation, which owned and operated a manufacturing plant and offices at Comly and Milner Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 3. The Quaker Rubber Works ("Quaker" herein), was operated as one of Porter's multiple divisions from 1950 through May, 1972.

 4. Sometime prior to 1950 Porter established a pension plan for its salaried employees, described as the "Salaried Employees' Pension Plan of H. K. Porter Company, Inc., and Subsidiaries" ("Plan" herein). The Plan has been amended from time to time since its inception, the most recent amendment having become effective May 1, 1969.

 5. The Plan provides that the Board of Directors of Porter shall appoint a Pension Committee, whose duties consist of the general responsibility for the administration and supervision of the Plan.

 6. The members of the Porter Pension Committee consisted of the following officials of the Porter Company:

 
(a) William Hartzell -- Treasurer of Porter
 
(b) J. N. Yorke -- Vice President of Porter
 
(c) Robert F. Rainey -- Supervisor of Pensions for Porter.

 7. For three years prior to its being closed, the Quaker Plant suffered substantial losses.

 8. In September, 1971, Porter decided to shut down the Quaker Plant.

 9. The shutdown began in October, 1971, and the plant was finally closed in January, 1972.

 10. All employees of Porter employed at the Quaker Plant were discharged when Porter closed the plant.

 11. Plaintiffs, all former salaried employees of Porter, were employed by Porter at it's Quaker Plant.

 12. When Porter terminated the employment of plaintiffs, as a result of the closing of the Quaker Plant, all of the plaintiffs' rights to a pension under the Plan were terminated.

 13. Porter has made and makes contributions to the H. K. Porter Company, Inc., Common Pension Trust ("Trust" herein) in respect of the Plan.

 14. Under the Plan salaried employees made no contributions to the Trust.

 15. The purpose of the contributions made by Porter to the Trust is to fund in advance, pension liabilities under the Plan.

 16. The pension liabilities of the Plan, and the amount of annual contributions necessary to fund these liabilities properly, are determined annually by ...


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