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NIXON v. O'CALLAGHAN
May 7, 1975
Howard L. NIXON, Plaintiff,
Thomas F. O'CALLAGHAN et al., Defendants
Tenney, District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: TENNEY
This action for reinstatement of plaintiff's pension benefits under the Masters, Mates and Pilots Trust Fund ("the Trust Fund") and for payment of pension benefits withheld since late 1972 was commenced in the New York State Supreme Court, New York County, and removed to this Court on the ground that it purported to state a claim over which the federal district courts have subject matter jurisdiction under § 302(e) of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 ("the Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 186, and 28 U.S.C. § 1337.
The gravamen of the complaint is that the regulation under which the defendant Trustees acted in discontinuing plaintiff's pension, Section 13 of the Trust Fund's Regulations, is "unreasonable on its face" (Complaint para. 8) and that the application of that regulation in his case was arbitrary, capricious and a breach of the Trustees' fiduciary obligations (Complaint paras. 7, 8). Both sides have moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) for summary judgment. For the reasons stated infra, the motions are denied and the case is remanded to the state court.
In the course of reviewing the papers submitted for determination of the summary judgment motions, the Court had occasion to review the complaint and defendants' petition for removal.
The complaint alleges, in essence, that in October or November 1968, plaintiff acquired a vested right to pension benefits from the Trust Fund, a trust which provides a pension for members of the Masters, Mates and Pilots Union
upon completion of certain requirements. It is further alleged that:
"7. Thereafter and on or about the 10th day of November 1972, the Trustees of the MASTERS, MATES AND PILOTS PENSION TRUST wrongfully and unlawfully, arbitrarily and capriciously, and in breach of their fiduciary relationship with the plaintiff, revoked plaintiff's right to pension benefits under the MASTERS, MATES AND PILOTS PENSION TRUST. In arguendo the Trustees have stated that the plaintiff was in violation of the Trust Agreement and Plan more specifically Article II-A, Section 13, (subd. b3) in that [plaintiff] had taken Covered Employment and not notified the Trustees as set forth in the above mentioned article, section and subdivision thereof."
There then follows a reference to that portion of the Trust Agreement and Plan, which provides:
Section 13. Retirement Defined.
a. To be considered retired, a person must withdraw completely from any further employment in any capacity aboard any vessel whatsoever. As used in the foregoing sentence, the word "vessel" shall not include fishing vessels and yachts. Upon application by the pensioner, the Trustees may, in their sole discretion, authorize employment aboard other small craft which the Trustees, in their sole discretion consider similar type vessels.
b. If a Pensioner works in employment forbidden by this section,
1. He shall not be entitled to pension benefits for any month of such employment and for six additional months;
2. He shall be required to return pension amounts previously received and failing to do so, shall not be entitled to any further benefits; and
3. He must notify the Trustees in writing within 15 days, if he fails to give prompt notice, the Trustees may in their sole discretion permanently ...
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