The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, District Judge.
OPINION and ORDER OF COURT
Pending before the Court is the Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) Motion
to Dismiss of Defendants CBS, Inc. and Westinghouse Pension Plan
("Defendants") as to the Complaint filed against them by
Plaintiff Harry Bellas ("Bellas" or "Plaintiff"). Plaintiff's
Complaint alleges a violation of ERISA § 204(g),
29 U.S.C. § 1054(g) against both Defendants and a breach of fiduciary duty
claim against Defendant CBS, Inc. ("CBS"). For the reasons set
forth below, the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is denied.
In deciding a motion to dismiss, all factual allegations and
all reasonable inferences therefrom must be accepted as true and
viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Colburn v.
Upper Darby Township, 838 F.2d 663, 666 (3d Cir. 1988). A court
may dismiss a plaintiff's complaint only if it appears beyond
doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of
his claims which would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 45, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). In ruling on a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court looks
to "whether sufficient facts are pleaded to determine that the
complaint is not frivolous, and to provide defendants with
adequate notice to frame an answer." Colburn, 838 F.2d at 666.
The Plan provides a Special Retirement Pension for employees of
CBS meeting stated age and service requirements who are
terminated as a result of a "Permanent Job Separation." Prior to
January 1, 1994 ("the pre-1994 version of the Plan"), the term
"Permanent Job Separation" was defined in the Plan as meaning
"the termination of the employment of an Employee . . . through
no fault of his own through lack of work for reasons associated
with the business for whom [the employer] determines there is no
reasonable expectation of recall." An amendment to the Plan,
adopted by CBS on January 1, 1994 ("the Amendment"), altered
participants' entitlement to a Special Retirement Pension in two
respects: (1) the Amendment made it harder to qualify for a
Special Retirement Pension after January 1, 1997, by narrowing
the definition of "Permanent Job Separation" to apply only if an
employee's employment termination was due to a job movement,
product line relocation, or location close-down and (2) the
Amendment eliminated the Special Retirement Pension in toto for
terminations on or after September 1, 1998.*fn2
Plaintiff was employed by CBS in the nuclear division of CBS
until December 31, 1997. He was a participant in the Plan at all
relevant times prior thereto, including at the time of the
adoption of the Amendment. Plaintiff was not notified of the
Amendment until late in 1994 or until distribution of the January
1, 1995 Summary Plan Description ("SPD").
As of January 1, 1997, the effective date of the Amendment's
alteration of the meaning of "Permanent Job Separation,"
Plaintiff was over age 50 and had more than thirty (30) years of
Eligibility Service at CBS.
As part of a coordinated layoff directed primarily at employees
of senior age, Plaintiff's employment was terminated by CBS on
December 31, 1997, through no fault of his own, through lack of
work, for reasons associated with CBS's business and with no
reasonable expectation of recall.
Upon being laid off, Plaintiff met all of the requirements for
a Special Retirement Pension under the pre-1994 version of the
CBS did not inform Plaintiff of his eligibility for a Special
Retirement Pension under the pre-1994 version of the Plan,
thereby preventing him from making a claim under the pre-1994
version of the Plan.
Since January 1, 1997, CBS has persisted in denying Special
Retirement Pensions to those who, like Plaintiff, have otherwise