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PIERCE v. AMERICAN WATERWORKS CO.

April 19, 1988

John D. Pierce, Plaintiff,
v.
American Waterworks Company, Inc., a corporation, and Pension Plan for Employees of American Waterworks Company, Inc. and its designated subsidiaries, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL, JR.

 MAURICE B. COHILL, JR. Chief Judge

 This case arises under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq., in which the plaintiff, John D. Pierce, contends that the defendants, American Waterworks Company, Inc., and Pension Plan for Employees of American Waterworks Company, Inc., violated ERISA and the terms of the Pension Plan by denying him pension disability benefits.

 Following a non-jury trial, we now make the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in accordance with Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

 I. FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. The plaintiff resides in Elizabeth Borough, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

 2. Defendant American Water Works Company, Inc. ("American Water") is a Delaware corporation having its principal offices at 3908 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 19807.

 3. Defendant Pension Plan for Employees of American Water Works Company, Inc. and Its Designated Subsidiaries (the "Plan"), is a pension plan organization created by American Water. The Plan maintains its principal offices at 3908 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware,19807.

 4. The Plan is a separate legal entity from American Water.

 5. The Plan is an employee benefit plan within the meaning of ERISA. 29 U.S.C. § 1002(1) and (3).

 6. Western Pennsylvania Water Company ("Western Pa. Water") is a corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of American Water.

 7. Western Pa. Water is a public utility providing water service to customers in the Pennsylvania counties of Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland, and Fayette. Western Pa. Water employs more than 100 people in said counties in the aggregate.

 8. The plaintiff commenced employment with the Western Pa. Water on or about October 30, 1968.

 9. The plaintiff was born July 9, 1934.

 10. The plaintiff injured his back while at work for Western Pa. Water on July 20, 1981, when he pulled on a jack hammer that had become stuck in the pavement.

 11. The plaintiff worked sporadically for Western Pa. Water from July 20, 1981, until October 9, 1981.

 12. The plaintiff has not worked for wages for Western Pa. Water since October 9, 1981.

 13. The plaintiff has not been engaged in any meaningful employment since October 9, 1981.

 14. Since October 9, 1981, and continuing to the present time, the plaintiff has received workmen's compensation payments of $ 262.00 per week.

 15. On June 23, 1983, the plaintiff applied for Social Security disability benefits alleging disability since August 3, 1981, due to injury to his lower back.

 16. By decision dated February 29, 1984, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held that the plaintiff had become disabled for purposes of the Social Security Act on November 30, 1982. The ALJ held that from November 30, 1982, the plaintiff did not possess the residual functional capacity to do sedentary work.

 17. The plaintiff has been receiving social security disability benefits of $ 268.00 per month since December 1, 1982.

 18. The plaintiff is, and at all times material hereto, has been a participant in the Plan and the plaintiff has a vested right to a retirement pension in accordance with the terms of the Plan.

 19. The plaintiff is a person who would be entitled to disability retirement benefits under the terms of the Plan if he were able to meet the Plan's eligibility requirements for disability retirement benefits.

 20. Pursuant to the Plan, a participant is eligible for disability retirement benefits if, "as a result of mental or physical illness or injury . . . while actively employed, he is unable permanently to engage in any occupation or employment for compensation or profit."

 21. The criterion for disability, that one must be "unable permanently to engage in any occupation or employment," is ...


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