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Donachy v. Motion Control Industries

August 20, 2008

LARRY DONACHY AND BRUCE KINLEY, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MOTION CONTROL INDUSTRIES, DIVISION OF CARLISLE CORPORATION, RETIREMENT PLAN FOR BARGAINING UNIT EMPLOYEES OF MOTION CONTROL INDUSTRIES, DIVISION OF CARLISLE CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sean J. McLaughlin United States District Judge

Judge McLaughlin

MEMORANDUM OPINION

McLAUGHLIN, SEAN J., J.

Plaintiffs, Larry Donachy and Bruce Kinley ("Plaintiffs"), on behalf of themselves and the class certified by this Court's order of August 20, 2007, filed this action challenging a determination issued by Carlisle Corporation Incorporated Pension and Benefits Committee ("Committee") regarding the appropriate calculations of Plaintiffs' retirement benefits. This matter is now before the Court upon cross-motions for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant, Motion Control Industries, actively employed Plaintiffs at a manufacturing facility in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, until January 11, 2002. (Complaint ¶ 3; Answer ¶ 3). On that date, Motion Control closed the Ridgway facility and permanently laid off its employees. (Affidavit of Larry Donachy ("Donachy Aff.") ¶ 3; Affidavit of Bruce Kinley ("Kinley Aff.") ¶ 3). Motion control continued paying employee wages and benefits through March 16, 2002. (Complaint ¶ 25; Answer ¶ 25).

While employed at Motion Control, Donachy and Kinley participated in the Retirement Plan for Bargaining Unit Employees of Motion Control Industries, Division of Carlisle Corporation ("the Plan"). (Donachy Aff. ¶ 5; Kinley Aff. ¶ 5). The Plan is maintained pursuant to a written document consisting of a master plan document (the "Plan Document"), amended and restated effective January 1, 1997, and a local supplement, amended and restated July 20, 2002 (the "Plan Supplement"). (Complaint ¶ 4; Answer ¶ 4).

The Plan provides for various types of retirement benefits, including, inter alia, "Normal Retirement Benefits" and "Deferred Vested Retirement Benefits." (See Plan Document, Exhibit C to Defendants' Concise Statement of Material Facts). Normal Retirement Benefits are available to a participant "whose Vesting Service terminates on or after his Normal Retirement Age," 65, whereas Deferred Vested Retirement Benefits are available to a participant "whose Vesting Service terminates after he attains his Vested Retirement Age and before his Early Retirement Age," provided he satisfies other requirements of the Plan. (Plan Document, §§ 4.1(a); 4.4(a)). It is undisputed that the type of benefits Donachy and Kinley are eligible for, if any, are Deferred Vested Retirement Benefits.

Sections 4.1(b) and 4.4(b) of the Plan Document set forth the calculations for determining monthly retirement benefits. The calculation of Normal Retirement Benefits is determined as follows:

Amount. The monthly amount of normal retirement benefit payable to a Member eligible therefor. . . shall be equal to the Member's Credited Service multiplied by the benefit rate specified in the Supplement..." (Plan Document, § 4.1(b)). The calculation of Deferred Vested Retirement Benefits is governed by Section 4.4(b):

Amount. A terminated Member's monthly deferred vested retirement benefit shall be an amount computed in the same manner as a normal retirement benefit, determined as set forth in section 4.1(b) above, based on the benefit rate and his Credited Service as of the date his Vesting Service terminates...

(Plan Document, §4.4(b)). Simply stated, a participant's monthly pension amount is determined by multiplying the benefit rate by the number of years of Credited Service earned by the participant. (Plan Document, §§4.1(b); 4.4(b)).

IUE/CWA Local 502, AFL-CIO ("Local 502"), an employee organization, represented the Plaintiffs and Motion Control's other rank-and-file production and maintenance employees in collective bargaining. (Complaint ¶11; Answer ¶11). Local 502 and Motion Control negotiated a series of collective bargaining agreements covering the employees of the Ridgway facility, including the most recent, effective by its terms from July 20, 2000 through June 27, 2003 (the "2000 Agreement"). Relevant to the issue of pension benefits, the 2000 Agreement contained the following provision setting forth certain increases to the benefit rate multiplier for Normal Retirement Benefits:

Section 4.1 (b) of the Plan: The monthly amount of normal retirement benefit payable to a Member eligible therefor under section 4.1(a) of the Plan and whose Vesting Service terminates on or after July 20, 2000 shall be equal to the product of the amount shown in the chart below, depending upon the date of the Member's retirement, ...


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