The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, United States Magistrate Judge.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
The plaintiff, Concetta Copeland ("Copeland" or "plaintiff"), is a
resident of Camillus, New York, located within the Northern District of
New York, and brings this action pursuant to the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1001-1461 ("ERISA"). The defendant
Geddes Federal Savings & Loan Association Retirement Income Plan
("Plan") is an employee benefit plan within the meaning of ERISA §
1002(2)(A). The defendant Geddes Federal Savings and Loan Association
("Bank"), is the administrator of the Plan within the meaning of §
1002 (16)(A) and a fiduciary to the Plan within the meaning of § 1002
(21)(A). Plaintiff is seeking past and future retirement benefits
pursuant to the Plan.
A one day bench trial was conducted on March 15, 1999, in Syracuse, New
York. The plaintiff called five witnesses: (1) Sylvia Salvagno, a former
employee of the Bank and a former administrator of the Plan; (2) Gerald
Heaton, an actuary called as an expert witness; (3) the plaintiff; (4),
Jack F. McPeak, a senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer with the
Bank, and the current administrator of the Plan; and (5) John Harrison,
President of the Bank. The defendant called two witnesses: (1) Mr.
McPeak; and (2) James A. Hughes, the Plan consultant for the Bank. In
addition, the parties stipulated or made no objection to the receipt into
evidence of thirty-two documentary exhibits. Post trial memorandums of
law were filed by both sides on May 7, 1999.
Based upon a review of the minutes of the trial, the exhibits received
into evidence, the pleadings, and all other submissions, together with an
evaluation of the credibility of the various witnesses, the following
constitutes the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law pursuant to Fed.
Copeland was an employee of the Bank from March 24, 1986 to December
31, 1993. As an employee of the Bank, she was, and still is, a
participant in the Plan.
In May 1989, Rosemary Campagnoni, a Bank employee, elected to retire
under the Social Security Option. She received her retirement benefits as
computed using the 1984 Amendment and Table A. Neither the Bank nor the
Plan raised any objection or claimed that a mistake was made concerning
the calculation of Mrs. Campagnoni's benefits.
In late 1989, two other Bank employees, Emma Fedeli and Jean Avery
elected to retire under the Social Security Option. At this time, Mr.
Hughes, as the Plan consultant, discovered that the Social Security
Option, as amended in 1984, was costing the Plan substantially more than
the normal retirement option. He brought this matter to the attention of
the Plan's Board of Directors ("Board"), and recommended that they either
increase the funding or reduce the Social Security Option benefits.
As a result, on January 12, 1990, the Board passed a resolution
proposing to amend the Plan to discontinue using the factors in Table A
and, instead, make all of the retirement options actuarially equivalent.
(Defs.' Ex. Al.) This resolution became Amendment No. 4 which reads:
Based upon a motion of the Board of Directors on
January 12, 1990, the Geddes Federal Savings and Loan
Association Retirement Income Plan is hereby amended
as follows effective January 1, 1990:
Section 10.3 Social Security Option shall be amended
in it's (sic) entirety and replaced with the
"A participant who retires before his or her normal
retirement date may elect to receive a reduced benefit
prior to and until his or her social Security
Commencement date; so that the amount of the benefit
received from the Plan when combined with anticipated
Social Security Benefit will remain approximately
level. Benefits under this option will ...