award of attorney's fees in this action will serve to emphasize the importance of the administrator's prompt response to a request for information to which plan participants and beneficiaries are entitled. An administrator should not be permitted to blithely ignore a proper request for documents until legal counsel has been obtained to secure enforcement of the right to that information. The award of attorney's fees under these circumstances is consistent with ERISA's requirements of full and complete disclosure to plan participants and beneficiaries and will discourage administrators from disregarding the statutory scheme designed to effectuate those goals.
The defendants emphasize that this action was commenced after Mr. Porcellini had received his benefits and the relevant documents. Concededly, this action did not seek to benefit all participants and beneficiaries of an ERISA plan nor did it seek to resolve a significant legal question regarding ERISA. However, the mere fact that Mr. Porcellini sought to enforce legal rights provided under a federal statute should not weigh against him even where the net effect of the action is to give Mr. Porcellini a "windfall." When Mr. Porcellini first engaged legal counsel to assist him in procuring his employee benefits and the necessary documents to verify those benefits, he obviously had not received either. Thereafter, he received the amounts to which he was entitled and ultimately he received the documents to enable him to verify the amounts received. These were obtained, however, only after extensive efforts by counsel. The fact that these documents were furnished to Mr. Porcellini does not pretermit the administrator's statutory obligation to furnish those documents in a timely manner. Therefore, I conclude that Mr. Porcellini's commencement of this action after he had received the requested documents does not weigh against the statutory award of fees. Clearly, it should not have been necessary for Mr. Porcellini to have an attorney, at his own expense, to obtain that which the law plainly and unambiguously grants him. An award of attorney's fees in this case may help to avoid other beneficiaries in the future from being placed in a similar situation. To the extent that this Discussion section encompasses Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law not contained under those respective headings, the same shall be deemed additional Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
IV. Conclusions of Law
1. This court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter and venue is proper in this district.
2. On April 2, 1982, Mr. Porcellini, through his counsel, made a proper written request to William G. Strassheim for information required to be furnished under 29 U.S.C. §§ 1024 & 1025.
3. Strassheim Printing Co., Inc. was at that time and remains, the administrator of the Strassheim pension trust.
4. The written request to William G. Strassheim satisfied the statutory requirement that a written request be made to the plan administrator since William G. Strassheim was an employee of the Strassheim Co. at that time, albeit semi-retired.
5. The response to plaintiff's request was not tendered until July 1, 1982, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c).
6. The Strassheim Printing Co., Inc., as administrator of the pension trust, is personally liable to Mr. Porcellini in the amount of $25.00 per day from May 2, 1982, which is thirty (30) days after the request was properly made, to July 1, 1982, the date that the requested documents were delivered, being sixty (60) days for the sum of $1,500.00.
7. The Strassheim Printing Co., Inc., as administrator of the pension trust, is liable for plaintiff's attorney's fees pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g).
8. No proper written request was ever made upon the administrator of the profit-sharing trust, and no penalty award is made as to the profit-sharing trust.
AND NOW, this 26th day of September, 1983, it is ORDERED, upon the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Discussion set forth in the opinion filed contemporaneously herewith, that judgment is entered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant Strassheim Printing Co., Inc., in the amount of $1,500.00 representing $25.00 per day from May 2, 1982 to July 1, 1982, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(c).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff is entitled to reasonable attorney's fees pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g). Plaintiff shall submit, within fifteen (15) days of the date of this Order, a petition for counsel fees together with a detailed affidavit of the amount of hours devoted to this action and the hourly rate requested in accordance with the precepts enunciated in Lindy Brothers Builders, Inc. v. American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corp. (Lindy I), 487 F.2d 161 (3d Cir. 1973), and Lindy Brothers Builders, Inc. v. American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corp. (Lindy II), 540 F.2d 102 (3d Cir. 1976) (en banc). Defendants shall have two weeks from the date of the submission of the petition for counsel fees to file any appropriate response or objection, if any.