The opinion of the court was delivered by: HECKMAN
This matter was referred to the undersigned by the Hon. Richard J. Arcara, to hear and report, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, defendants' motion should be denied.
Plaintiff bought this action in New York State Supreme Court, Niagara County, on February 27, 1996. He alleges that defendants wrongfully denied him "incapability retirement" benefits in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1000 et seq. On March 21, 1996, defendants removed the case to this court on the basis of original federal jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441.
Plaintiff immediately applied for both "total and permanent disability" and "incapability retirement" benefits under the respective employee benefit plans. Section I of du Pont's "Total and Permanent Disability Income Plan" provides:
The purpose of this Plan is to protect eligible employees against substantial loss of earnings in the event of total and permanent disability resulting from injury or disease by supplementing benefits payable under other Company and government-sponsored programs.
(Item 10, Ex. A). Section II(E) provides:
An individual shall be considered to be "totally and permanently disabled" if the Board of Benefits and Pensions finds that he is totally disabled by injuries or disease and presumably will be totally and permanently prevented from pursuing any gainful occupation . . ..
(id.). Section VIII(B) provides:
The administration of this Plan is vested in the Board of Benefits and Pensions appointed by the Company. . . . The Board of Benefits and Pensions retains discretionary authority to determine eligibility for benefits hereunder and to construe the terms and conditions of the Plan. The decision of the Board in all matters involving the interpretation and application of this Plan shall be final.
Section I of du Pont's "Pension and Retirement Plan" provides as follows:
The purpose of this Plan is to provide for the retirement of employees and, under the conditions set forth below, to provide an employee who is retired or otherwise terminated with pension rights that take into account the length of his service and the pay he received during his employment with the Company.
(Item 13, Ex. 3). Section II provides:
The administration of this Plan is vested in the Board of Benefits and Pensions appointed by the Executive Committee. . . The Board of Benefits and Pensions retains discretionary authority to determine eligibility for benefits hereunder and to construe the terms and conditions of the Plan. The decision of the Board in all matters involving the interpretation and application of the Plan shall be final. . . .
(id.). Section IV(C) provides for "Incapability ...