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Ozarowsky v. Owens-Illinois

July 6, 2010

CHESTER OZAROWSKY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OWENS-ILLINOIS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before the Court are the parties' Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment filed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Doc. nos. 24 and 28. Plaintiff, Chester Ozarowsky, sued defendant, Owens-Illinois, Inc., the successor company to plaintiff's former employer, seeking, inter alia, a declaration that defendant violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), when it did not pay pension benefits to plaintiff. On December 9, 2009, defendant removed this civil action from the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County on the basis that this Court has original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. After this Court denied defendant's Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, discovery ensued.

Both parties now move this Court to enter judgment in their favor. Defendant argues for judgment in its favor on two grounds: (1) plaintiff's claim is time-barred or (2) that his claim is not supported by the terms of the collective-bargaining agreement ("CBA"). Doc. No. 25. Conversely, plaintiff contends the CBA entitles him to pension benefits. Doc. No. 30. The matter has been fully briefed by both parties (see doc. nos. 25, 29, 33 and 35) and is now ripe for decision. After careful consideration of all the submissions, this Court shall grant defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and deny plaintiffs's Motion for Summary Judgment for the reasons that follow.

I. Background

Certain facts are not contested. In 1945, plaintiff began working for Hazel Atlas. As an employee of Hazel Atlas, plaintiff was a member of the Brockway Glass Bottle Blowers' Association of the United States and Canada, ("the Union"). Brockway Glass bought the plant where plaintiff worked in 1964. Plaintiff remained employed at the plant until January of 1965. He was 36 years old at the date of his separation from the plant.

At time of his separation of employment from the plant, a CBA was in effect. The relevant portion of the CBA reads as follows:

Article 17

Pensions

1. Effective January 1, 1955, each Manufacturer established a pension plan covering certain employee represented by the Union. The following provisions apply to each plan:

(b) The plan provides

(i) normal retirement benefits on the general basis of $2.00 per month for each year of credited service prior to age 65 to all persons retiring at age 65 and prior to March 1, 1963 with a maximum benefit of $70.00 per month, and $2.50 per month for each year of credited service prior to age 65 to all persons retiring at age 65 on or after March 1, 1963 without limitation as to the maximum amount of retirement benefit.

Plaintiff attained the age of 65 on January 18, 1994. Plaintiff contends he was entitled to receive pension benefits from defendant as of January 18, 1994. Plaintiff admits that prior to 2005, he never did anything to investigate why he was not receiving pension benefits from defendant.

Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County seeking a declaration stating he is entitled to pension benefits from defendant starting at age 65, even though he ceased working for defendant at age 36. Plaintiff's complaint sought a declaration under ERISA stating that he is entitled to his pension benefits. Doc. no. 1-1. ...


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