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SCHAFFER v. EAGLE INDUS.
November 21, 1989
EAGLE INDUSTRIES, INC.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEWCOMER
CLARENCE C. NEWCOMER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Before the court is a motion for summary judgment by defendant Eagle Industries, Inc. For the reasons that follow, the court will deny the motion.
This is an action to collect withdrawal liability allegedly owed to the Teamsters Pension Trust Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity (the Fund) (of which plaintiff Schaffer is the Administrator), brought pursuant to the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (MPPAA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1453, and specifically, § 1451 (Civil actions). Because the Fund has settled with defendant Transpersonnel, Inc., only Eagle Industries, Inc. (Eagle) remains as a defendant.
As recently stated by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the MPPAA was:
Congress' response to the growing problem of financial insolvency of multi-employer pension plans caused by the withdrawal of contributors, and was aimed at protecting the financial integrity of these plans by requiring that withdrawing employers pay a withdrawal liability sum. An employer is deemed to have "completely withdrawn" from a plan when it either "(1) permanently ceases to have an obligation to contribute under the plan, or (2) permanently ceases all covered operations under the plan." 29 U.S.C. § 1383(a). The withdrawing employer is liable to the plan for its allocable share of the plan's unfunded vested benefits. 29 U.S.C. §§ 1381, 1391.
Provisions for the quick and informal resolution of withdrawal liability disputes are an integral part of MPPAA's statutory scheme. Thus, the statute provides that "as soon as practicable after an employer's complete or partial withdrawal," the plan is required to determine the amount of withdrawal liability, notify the employer of its assessment, and demand payment. 29 U.S.C. § 1399(b)(1). . . .
If the employer [is] dissatisfied with the plan's determination, MPPAA provides for the resolution of the dispute through arbitration. . . . If arbitration is not initiated within the specified time period, the amount demanded by the plan "shall be due and owing." 29 U.S.C. § 1401(b).
Crown Cork & Seal v. Central States Pension Fund, 881 F.2d 11, 13-14 (3d Cir. 1989) (citation and footnote omitted).
Eagle is a successor to Clevepak Corporation, an entity which formerly maintained a facility within the jurisdiction of the Fund. In operating the facility, Clevepak required truck drivers to make pickups and deliveries. Rather than placing drivers on its payroll, Clevepak entered into contractual arrangements with other companies who "leased" drivers to Clevepak on a full-time basis. There were two such leasing arrangements, one with Milwaukee Driver Service, Inc. (MDS) (covering the period up to June 1981) and another with Transpersonnel (in effect from July 1981 to April 1983). Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition at 3.
The issues before the court are: (1) whether Eagle was an "employer" within the meaning of the MPPAA who should be required to submit its dispute to arbitration; (2) whether Eagle is obligated to make interim payments of withdrawal liability; and ...
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