April 6, 2001
IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATIONS OF NUCLEAR GENERATION WEST PAGE 292 EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, AND WILLIAM CARANO, THOMAS PULCHER, AND RICHARD WIESE, JR. INDIVIDUALLY AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NUCLEAR GENERATION EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, AND MARK BENGIS, WILLIAM M. BRUSH, THOMAS M. BUTLER, JOHN A. BOCCATO, JOSEPH B. CHAMBERS, JOSEPH P. COLLOCA, WILLIAM W. COMSTOCK, FRANK CONTE, ROBERT CULLEN, ALAN DEGRACIA, DANIEL D. DEHM, EDWARD DIAMOND, ROBERT DOLANSKY, MICHAEL J. DRIES, ZVI EISENBERG, RICHARD H. FINGER, JAMES GILLEN, KENNETH GOODROE, WALTER D. GRAFF, BOYD W. GRANDY, ROBERT T. HANSLER, STEPHEN M. HASKELL, NELSON C. HEDDLE, JR., JOHN E. HILL, JOHN J. HILL, MICHAEL P. HOGAN, DENNIS JENNY, NOEL J. LABBE, ROGER LAURICELLA, ROBERT C. LEE, FREDERICK J. LEPINE, RICHARD
NOROIAN, THOMAS D. OPET, MARK ANDREW PERKINS, STEPHEN G. PRUSSMAN, EDWIN A. RODRIGUEZ, ROBERT C. ROTTENBERK, MARGARET SALADINO, ROBERT M. SARKISSIAN, STEPHEN M. SMITH, ROBERT SOLANTO, JOHN A. SOLINI, DAVID SPINDLER, WILLIAM E. STELL, CHARLES TESSMER, KENNETH J. VEHSTEDT, ROBERT VITALE, JAMES WERNER, JOHN WHITNEY, JAMES S. YOULEN, BRIAN T. YOUNG, ROGER YOUNG, AND JOHN ZAHN, INDIVIDUALLY, PETITIONERS-PLAINTIFFS, V. NEW YORK POWER AUTHORITY A/K/A/ POWER AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, ENTERGY CORP., ENTERGY NUCLEAR OPERATIONS, INC., ENTERGY NUCLEAR FITZPATRICK, L.L.C., ENTERGY NUCLEAR INDIAN POINT 3, L.L.C., AND NEW YORK STATE AND LOCAL EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM, RESPONDENTS-DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMAHON, United States District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND
Defendant Entergy timely removed this action to federal court.*fn1
Plaintiffs now move for voluntary dismissal of Entergy as a defendant,
and for remand of the case to state court. Defendants Entergy and NYPA
move for dismissal on the pleadings.
On November 21, 2000, the parties closed on the purchase and sale of
the power plants. In their respective reply briefs, both NYPA and Entergy
moved to dismiss plaintiffs' claims on the ground of mootness. On March
8, 2001, this Court requested and received a letter brief from plaintiffs
in support of their position that the petition is not moot.
The Nuclear Generation Employees Association ("NGEA") is an
unincorporated association formed in January, 2000 to promote the
interests of its members and to act for their mutual protection. The more
than four hundred members of the NGEA were, until recently, non-union
employees of the New York Power Authority ("NYPA") employed at the James
A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Station ("JAF"), the Indian Point 3 Nuclear
Power Station ("IP3") and the White Plains, New York corporate offices of
NYPA (collectively, the "Transfer Facilities").
Plaintiffs are a group of 59 employees from the Transfer Facilities who
served in various management-level positions and held their jobs "at
will." The New York State Employees Retirement System ("NYSERS")
administers the funds that provide pension allowances for vested
employees. At the time the lawsuit was filed, all of the members of the
NGEA were employed by NYPA and were members of NYPA's management team.
They were not protected by a union or employment contract. As employees
of NYPA, the members of NGEA received certain benefits during their
employment with NYPA and were to receive certain benefits upon their
retirement from employment with NYPA.
On or about February 14, 2000, NYPA and the Entergy Group announced an
agreement in principle for the sale by NYPA to the Entergy Group of the
two nuclear power plants, JAF and IP3, and the White Plains corporate
office. On March 28, 2000, NYPA and the Entergy Group signed a purchase
and sales agreement to that effect. Pursuant to the terms of that
agreement, upon the closing, the NGEA members' employment with NYPA was
to cease and every employee who consented to do so would become an
employee of the Entergy Group. The NYPA and Entergy discussed the
compensation and benefits of NYPA employees.
Plaintiffs sought a declaration that NYPA failed to perform its duty
and acted in excess of its authority through its actions which allegedly
diminish plaintiffs' pension and retirement benefits in violation of
Article V, Section 7 of the New York State Constitution; a declaration of
their rights based on promises made by NYPA and Entergy regarding
plaintiffs' future employment, benefits, rights and entitlements, so as
"to provide necessary clarity, guidance and certainty to plaintiffs"; a
declaration that plaintiffs are third-party beneficiaries of the
Agreement between NYPA and Entergy; and a declaration that the agreement
between NYPA and Entergy diminished or impaired plaintiffs' pension and
retirement benefits in violation of the New York State Constitution.
On October 4, 2000, the parties stipulated that the petition was
dismissed as against NYSERS. Entergy removed the litigation from New York
State Court to this Court on the grounds that the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act ("ERISA") would govern any future disputes once
plaintiffs became private sector employees. Entergy argues that ERISA both
preempts state court review and provides the exclusive enforcement
provision for plaintiffs' potential future injuries. NYPA and Entergy now
move for a judgment on the pleadings dismissing the Complaint in its
entirety, and plaintiffs move to remand.
On November 9, 2000, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted approval
for the transfer of IP3 and JAF from the NYPA to Entergy. On November
21, 2000, the parties closed on the purchase and sale of the power
plants. As of that date, 48 of the plaintiffs had signed written consent
forms agreeing to transfer to Entergy, 6 had decided to retire, and two
were on medical leaves of absence.
After considering the arguments of the parties, I am constrained to
conclude that I have no power to adjudicate the matter in suit % whatever
it may be. Whether because the claim was wrongly removed, or because
there is no case in controversy, this Court has no subject matter
jurisdiction. Which of those defects is implicated depends on ...
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