Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Burgin v. General Motors Corp.

February 26, 2006

CHARLES BURGIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GENERAL MOTORS CORP., GENERAL MOTORS HOURLY RATE PENSION PLAN, JOHN DOE, AND GENERAL MOTORS HOURLY RATE PENSION PLAN ADMINISTRATOR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

In this action, pro se Plaintiff Charles Burgin alleges that Defendants breached their fiduciary duties by failing to advise him of his pension eligibility and by refusing to provide him with requested plan documents. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to the Employment Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1113 and 1132. Currently before this Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment as well as Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Summary

Plaintiff began working for General Motors Corporation ("GMC") on August 28, 1978. (Compl., ¶ 7). At some point during his employment, he suffered injuries, which resulted in an extended disability absence. (Compl., ¶ 11). After an unsuccessful attempt to return to work in 1991, Plaintiff filed a grievance with GMC. (Compl., ¶¶ 11-12). On July 1, 1993, in settlement of his grievance, Plaintiff was awarded 4.5 years of credited service. (Compl., ¶¶ 9 & 12).*fn1 As a result, Plaintiff alleges that his total credited service was increased to 10.5 years, retroactive to December 31, 1991. (Compl., ¶ 9 & Exh. A).

GMC is responsible for administration of its Hourly Rate Pension Plan ("Pension Plan"). (Compl., ¶ 5). In response to Plaintiff's request for Pension Plan documents and an opportunity to apply for total and permanent disability pension ("disability pension"), the General Motors Pension Administration Center sent a letter dated July 13, 1998, in which it explained:

You are hereby informed that you are ineligible to apply for Total and Permanent Disability Benefits, as outlined in the General Motors/UAW Pension Plan. Only those employees with at least 10 years of credited service, unbroken seniority, who are under the age of 65, have been on sick leave for at least five months, and are currently on sick leave are eligible to apply for total and permanent disability. Your status shows that you have quit General Motors dated 7-1-93[sic], therefore, you are ineligible to apply for total and permanent disability. If you believe that this information is incorrect and need further assistance, please contact the union benefit representative at your location.

(Compl., ¶ 19 & Exh. E). Plaintiff contacted the United Auto Workers ("UAW") as instructed but received no reply. (Compl., ¶ 20). At the time, the UAW was a named defendant in an employment discrimination suit commenced by Plaintiff in 1995.*fn2 (Compl., ¶ 20).

Plaintiff alleges that while conducting legal research in January of 2004, he discovered that Defendants were obligated to advise him that he was eligible for disability pension. (Compl., ¶ 16). Specifically, Plaintiff discovered a case entitled Camardo v. General Motors Hourly-Rate Employees Pension Plan, 806 F. Supp. 380 (W.D.N.Y. 1992), in which a GMC employee sought judgment directing the administrator of the General Motors Hourly-Rate Employee Pension Plan to provide him with disability pension benefits. The Comardo Court cited language from the "Agreement Implementing Section 3(c) of the Supplemental Agreement, Pension Plan, dated March 21, 1982, Between General Motors and the UAW, § B4(c), p. 112," ("1982 Implementing Agreement"), which provides:

Management will notify each employee who has been absent for 5 continuous months, because of disability, of his possible eligibility for total and permanent disability pension. The union member of the local Pension Committee will be given a copy of the employee notification letter, or advised if personal contact is made with such employee. If such absence continues for a period of 9 full months because of disability and the employee has not applied for total and permanent disability pension, management will again notify the employee of his possible eligibility for such pension and will give a copy of the employee notification to the union member of the local pension committee.

(Compl., ¶ 15; Comardo, 806 F. Supp at 385-86). By letter dated June 5, 2004, Plaintiff requested a copy of the 1982 Implementing Agreement, as well as copies of "all subsequent updates of GMC/UAW Pension Agreements" from 1982 through the present. (Compl., ¶ 21 & Exh. F). Plaintiff asked GMC to rescind its July 13, 1998 decision that he was ineligible to apply for disability pension, or to allow him to formally appeal that decision. (Compl., ¶ 21 & Exh. F). According to Plaintiff, Defendants did not reply to his request. (Compl., ¶ 21).

According to Defendants, the General Motors Pension Administration Center advised Plaintiff by letter dated July 14, 2004, that his request for an application could not be accommodated because he was not an active employee and was therefore ineligible. (Def.'s Mem., p. 3 & Exh. F). The letter further stated that "the information provided in the letter dated July 13, 1998 is accurate." (Def.'s Mem., Exh. F). Attached to the letter was the "Agreement Implementing Section 3(c) of the Supplemental Agreement, Pension Plan, dated October 24, 1993, between General Motors and the UAW," ("1993 Implementing Agreement"), as well as "language related to [total and permanent disability] retirement for Specific Plan years: 1982, 1987, and 1993." (Def.'s Mem., Exh. F) (emphasis added).

Plaintiff alleges that GMC and the UAW intentionally failed to inform him of his pension eligibility after he was awarded 4.5 years of credited service in 1993. (Compl., ¶¶ 17 & 18). In addition, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to provide him with the Pension Plan documents, which he specifically requested. (Compl., ¶ 23). Plaintiff seeks an order directing Defendants to furnish the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.