the plain language of the termination provision.
Therefore, we find that the complaint has not alleged a violation of an existing agreement between an employer and a labor organization, and that subject matter jurisdiction under Section 301 of the LMRA is not present.
III. Jurisdiction under ERISA
Plaintiffs next allege that Section 502 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1132, vests this court with jurisdiction in declaring plaintiffs' (employees covered by the 1974 UMWA benefit plan) right to receive health and other non-pension retirement benefits from G.M.&W. and the 1974 Benefit Plan and Trust. According to the complaint, "such benefits may not be provided either by G.M.&W. or Defendant purchasers under the circumstances alleged hereinafter and the Trustees of the 1974 Benefit Plan may deny eligibility of the members of this class for benefits thereunder on the ground that seller and/or purchaser remain in business." Complaint at paragraph 10. The complaint does not allege that any retirement benefits are not being paid nor that defendants have planned or threatened to stop paying benefits. The complaint states only that defendants "may not respect" benefit rights of the employees in the future. Complaint at paragraph 22.
ERISA permits civil actions by a participant or beneficiary of a pension plan "to recover benefits due to him under the terms of his plan, to enforce his rights under the terms of the plan, or to clarify his rights to future benefits under the terms of the plan." 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B). Plaintiffs argue that the instant action is one for declaratory relief, adjudging the UMWA 1974 Benefit Trust's responsibility in providing benefits to the G.M.&W. employees. Defendants argue that the issue is not ripe because the complaint does not allege an injury, either real or threatened.
ERISA's grant of jurisdiction to the district court to hear disputes regarding pension plans, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(1), is limited by the "case or controversy" requirement of Article III of the United States Constitution. Congress is empowered to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts, not to enlarge it beyond constitutional boundaries. Neither ERISA nor the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, extends the subject matter jurisdiction of this court beyond constitutional limits. Skelly Oil Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 339 U.S. 667, 94 L. Ed. 1194, 70 S. Ct. 876 (1950). Without reference to ERISA or the Declaratory Judgment Act, we must decide whether the instant claim is ripe for decision under the strictures of Article III.
Federal courts are confined to adjudicating actual cases and controversies. Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 104 S. Ct. 3315, 82 L. Ed. 2d 556 (1984). The standards by which cases and controversies are distinguished from claims premature or insufficiently adverse are not susceptible of easy application to a particular case. McCahill v. Borough of Fox Chapel, 438 F.2d 213 (3d Cir. 1971). As the Supreme Court observed in Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 108, 22 L. Ed. 2d 113, 89 S. Ct. 956 (1969): "Basically, the question in each case is whether the facts alleged, under all the circumstances, show that there is a substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality . . . ."
In declaratory judgment actions, the Court has emphasized the substantial degree of specificity required in the complaint. Babbitt v. United Farm Workers National Union, 442 U.S. 289, 60 L. Ed. 2d 895, 99 S. Ct. 2301 (1979); Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 6 L. Ed. 2d 989, 81 S. Ct. 1752 (1961); United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75, 91 L. Ed. 754, 67 S. Ct. 556 (1947). Federal judicial power is to be exercised where the complaint alleges that plaintiff is "immediately harmed, or immediately threatened with harm, by the challenged action." Poe, supra at 504. The injury alleged cannot be speculative, remote or contingent upon a hypothetical set of facts because the Constitution does not permit federal courts to render advisory opinions. See, e.g., MCI Cellular Telephone Co. v. F.C.C., 238 U.S. App. D.C. 176, 738 F.2d 1322 (D.C. Cir. 1984); Colonial Penn Insurance Co. v. Heckler, 721 F.2d 431 (3d Cir. 1983).
We find that the instant complaint does not state, with the required degree of specificity, that plaintiffs were harmed or immediately threatened with harm. The complaint only speculates that, at some uncertain future time, defendants "may" terminate benefit payments to G.M.&W. employees. No showing has been made that defendants have threatened termination of the benefits or have contemplated such action. The complaint contains no allegation that termination of benefits is an apparent certainty or even reasonably likely. Colonial Penn Insurance Co., supra at 439-40. We decline to exercise our legal and equitable powers to enter a declaratory order or an injunction when plaintiffs cannot allege an injury, real or threatened.
Because Section 301 of the LMRA permits jurisdiction to entertain claims for violation of an existing contract between an employer and a labor organization and because the instant claim arose after the collective bargaining agreement expired, subject matter jurisdiction is not present under Section 301.
Because plaintiffs have not alleged an immediate harm or an immediate threatened harm, the case or controversy requirement of Article III is not met on the retirement benefits claim seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Therefore, this court does not have constitutional jurisdiction to adjudicate this claim.
Finally, in the absence of federal claims, we exercise our discretion under United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 16 L. Ed. 2d 218, 86 S. Ct. 1130 (1966), to dismiss plaintiffs' pendent state claims.
A written order will follow.
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