March 17, 2011
PAUL DEPPENBROOK, ED ANTHONSEN, JOHN E. ATKINSON, LEE BLANKENBICKER, MICHAEL E. BURCKURE, RALPH CANANZI, HARRY P. CARCASE, PAUL BRUCE CERATTI, FRANK CHRICO, E.J. CORBIN, DAVID CORY, ROGER COTTERMAN, ARTHUR BRUCE CRIBBS, WILLIAM EATON, FRANK R. FERRERI, TERRY FLUENT, JOHN W. FRITZ, JR., WILLIAM GIPSON, OLSAN W. GLOVER, RON GOSSARD, CLIFFORD J. HALLSTEAD, ROBERT HEATON, ROBERT C. HARRINGTON, WAYNE HOSCAR, JAMES MICHAEL HOWE, ROBERT H. HUSTON, CHARLES W. HUNTINGTON, RAYMOND A. KANE, KEITH A. KNOX, JACK E. LIBERT, JAMES M. MANNON, JOHN R. MCDANEL, WILLIAM L. MCDOWELL, ALBERT MOORE (A/K/A DENNY MOORE), DAVID W. NAMOLA, JAMES P. NESTASIE, FRANK RAY PARRISH, THOMAS R. PARRISH, JERRY W. POWERS, THOMAS M. PROCOVICH, RICHARD M. RIHELY, CARL ROSE, PAUL KANE, LEX HERBANIK, TONY BRIANCESCO, CHARLES MAHOSKY, STANLEY TURAK, ART EVENS, HOWARD D. SHULER, JR., ROBERT TAYLOR, JACK THOMAS, DENNIS THUMM, JOSEPH TRZCINSKI, WILLIAM J. VENEZIE, SR., EDWARD M. WALSH, AND LOUIS A. YOUNG, PLAINTIFFS,
PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Stewart Cercone United States District Judge
Plaintiffs, fifty-six (56) members of the United Steelworkers of America (the "USWA" or the "Union") and former employees of Republic Technologies International, LLC ("RTI") initiated this action against Defendant, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation*fn1 ("PBGC"), regarding the recalculation of benefits under RTI's USWA Defined Pension Benefit Plan (the "Pension Plan"). PBGC has filed a motion to dismiss the action on several grounds under Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs have responded and the motion is now before the Court.
II. STATEMENT OF THE CASE
On April 2, 2001, RTI filed a petition for voluntary bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. On June 12, 2002, PBGC which assumed the responsibility to pay the retirement benefits of RTI employees as a result of RTI's bankruptcy*fn2 , issued notices pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1342(c), indicating its intent to terminate the plans, to seek appointment as statutory trustee, and to have June 14, 2002, established as the date of plan termination. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. Republic Techs. Int'l, LLC, 386 F.3d 659, 660 (6th Cir. Ohio 2004). On that same day, PBGC also filed a complaint against RTI in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio seeking termination of the plans, appointment as statutory trustee, and the establishment of June 14, 2002, as the date of plan termination. Id.
The District Court, however, ruled that August 17, 2002 was the date of the termination of the plan, which resulted in significantly increased pension benefits that PBGC was required to pay from its insurance funds. In Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. Republic Techs. Int'l, LLC, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the District Court's order regarding the date of plan termination holding that June 14, 2002, was the correct date of plan termination. See generally Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. Republic Techs. Int'l, LLC, supra. PBGC then recalculated the participants' benefit entitlements resulting in reductions to the monthly benefits of the participants.
PBGC seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint contending that: (1) venue is improper in this district; (2) the Complaint was improperly served; and (3) the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
PBGC argues that the ERISA claim should be dismissed because Plaintiffs brought this claim against PBGC in an improper venue. ERISA contains a specific venue provision applicable to actions against PBGC. Under 29 U.S.C. § 1303(f), a participant "may bring an action against [PBGC] for appropriate equitable relief in the appropriate court." 29 U.S.C. § 1303(f)(1). The "appropriate court" is defined as:
(A) the United States district court before which proceedings under section 1341 or 1342 of this title are being conducted,
(B) if no such proceedings are being conducted, the United States district court for the judicial district in which the ...
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