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MAROTTA v. ROAD CARRIER LOCAL 707 WELFARE FUND
March 16, 2000
JACK F. MAROTTA, PLAINTIFF,
ROAD CARRIER LOCAL 707 WELFARE FUND, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Orenstein, United States Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Jack F. Marotta ("plaintiff" or "Marotta") brings
this action against defendant Road Carrier Local 707 Welfare Fund
("defendant" or the "Welfare Fund"), alleging that the Welfare
Fund violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of
1974, as amended, ("ERISA"), Section 502(a)(1)(B),
29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B), when defendant failed to provide plaintiff with
health insurance coverage for his spouse, whom plaintiff married
approximately one year after he retired. Defendant moves the
Court for an order granting summary judgment pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and dismissing the complaint. Plaintiff
cross-moves for an order granting summary judgment in his favor
on his claims against defendant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendant's motion
and denies plaintiffs cross-motion.
On April 1, 1989, Marotta retired from the employ of Tose
Fowler, Inc., after having completed thirty-three years of
service in the Teamsters Local Union No. 707. (Compl. Par; 10-11).
At the time of his retirement, Marotta was a participant in the
Welfare Fund and the Road Carriers Local 707 Pension Fund (the
In connection with his retirement, Marotta submitted to the
Pension Fund Office an acknowledgment dated March 17, 1989,
confirming that his pension would commence on May 1, 1989,
(Alimena Aff. ¶ 18, Exh. J) and an "Election of Medical Benefits
or Death Benefit Option," dated April 14, 1989 in which there was
no recorded entry under "wife's name" "[wife's] date of
birth," and "Spouse's S.S. #," (Alimena Aff. ¶ 19, Exh. K). At
the time of these submissions, Marotta's first wife was deceased.
(Compl. ¶ 13).
In a letter dated October 3, 1989, the Pension Funds Manager,
Albert J. Alimena, notified Marotta that he was eligible for
medical and hospital benefits pursuant to the Welfare Fund Plan
(the "Welfare Plan"). (Compl. ¶ 12, Exh. 2). The letter stated:
Effective 10/01/89, you are eligible for medical &
hospital benefits as a retiree enrolled in our 00714M
[Pensioners Medical-Surgical Option] plan. This
entitles you and your spouse benefits (until the last
day of the month prior to each of your 65th
birthdays. If either the participant or the spouse is
age 65 at the time this coverage is elected then only
that individual who is less than age 65 will be
eligible for this coverage). . . .
(Compl. ¶ 12, Exh. 2). On March 30, 1990, Marotta married Marie
Elaine Shaw. (Compl. ¶ 14; Alimena Aff., Exh. M).
Shortly thereafter, Marotta "was advised that his spouse was
not covered for medical benefits by the Welfare Plan." (Compl. ¶
15). In March 1991, the Welfare Fund Office received a verbal
inquiry from Marotta concerning the eligibility of his current
spouse, Marie (Shaw) Marotta for coverage under the Pensioners
Medical-Surgical Option. (Compl.Exh. 3; Dft. 56.1 Statement at ¶
30).*fn2 By letter dated March 7, 1991, the Fund Manager Alimena
Pursuant to your request, I have reviewed the
eligibility requirements for medical benefits of a
pensioner's spouse. For the purpose of entitlement to
coverage, a spouse is defined as the lawful husband
or wife at the effective date of retirement, of the
Consequently, if an eligible pensioner remarries
after the effective date of his or her retirement,
no medical coverage will be provided for the spouse.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to
(Compl.Exh.3) (emphasis in original).
On August 12, 1996, approximately seven years after his
retirement, Marotta wrote the following letter to the Board of
Trustees of the Welfare Fund and Pension Fund:
I Jack Marotta was a dedicated union member and shop
steward for local 707. I retired in April 1989,
because Tose Fowler who I worked for was unable to
conduct business after a teamster strike which took
place Feb. 1989. I retired at the age of 52 because
jobs were scarce and I would have lost my seniority
and vacation time.
My first wife passed away and I remarried March 30,
1990. I assumed my present wife would be covered
under my health insurance plan.
I wrote the union several times on this issue and Mr.
Albert Alimena responded with a form letter stating
that my wife was not eligible for medical benefits.
To date I have paid over $15,000 for medical
insurance for my wife which has been a great
I would appreciate a copy of all literature stating
that my wife was not entitled to my medical benefits.
Please be more specific on your denial. I would like
to meet with the Board of Trustees concerning this
In a letter dated August 21, 1996, Fund Manager Alimena
informed Marotta that "the rules of the Pension Plan are used to
define who meets the requirements for coverage as an `eligible
spouse,'" enclosed copies of the relevant plan provisions and
denied Marotta's request for a meeting with the Board of
Trustees. (Compl. ¶ 18, Exh. 5; Alimena Aff. ¶ 39, Exh. Q). After
reviewing the enclosed provisions, Marotta wrote Alimena on
September 12, 1996, stating that pursuant to the terms of the
Welfare Plan, his spouse should have been receiving medical
benefits. (Compl. ¶ 20, Exh. 6).
Thereafter, defendant requested that its counsel review
Marotta's request for medical benefits for his spouse and respond
to Marotta. (Compl.Exh.7). Counsel for the Welfare Fund advised
Marotta by letter dated September 18, 1996 that
Generally, the Welfare Fund provides medical benefits
to pensioners and their spouses until they reach age
65. To determine who is a pensioner's spouse, the
Welfare Fund uses the same rules as the Pension Fund.
According to those rules, coverage is only provided
to the spouse that you were married to at the time
you began receiving benefits. Therefore, since you
were not ...