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Roshinsky v. Reynolds

July 18, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge


This is an action pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., in which the plaintiff, proceeding pro se,*fn1 alleges that he is being denied his pension. Now before the Court are two motions: 1) a motion [#11] to dismiss the complaint, or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement, filed by defendants David P. Reynolds and Nationwide Life Insurance Company; and 2) a motion [#25] for judgment on the pleadings, or, in the alternative, for an order transferring venue of this action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, filed by defendants Taxicab Industry Pension Fund and Gary Hahn. For the reasons that follow, the applications are granted in part and denied in part.


On July 5, 2006, Plaintiff, who resides in Corning, New York, commenced this action. The Complaint states: 1) "I claim that my vested pension had been denied me"; and 2) "A vested pension was promised to me when I reached age 65 in 1990. This pension had been denied me." (Complaint, pp. 1, 3). The caption of the Complaint names the following defendants: 1) "David P. Reynolds" ("Reynolds"); 2) "Nationwide Life Insurance Company"*fn2 ("Nationwide"); 3) "Taxicab Industry Pension Fund Local 74 SEIU" in Long Island City, New York ("Local 74"); and 4) "Mr. Ha[hn]*fn3 Taxicab Ind. Pension Fund. Local 3036 Rep." ("Hahn"). The Complaint indicates that Reynolds is a "Relationship Consultant" with Nationwide Life Insurance Company's "Income Products Service Center" in Columbus, Ohio. The Complaint further indicates that Hahn is a Representative of Local 3036's Taxicab Industry Pension Fund, with an address in care of Service Employee International Union Local 74 SEIU, located at 24-09 38th Avenue, Long Island City, New York. The Complaint contains no other factual allegations.

Subsequently, Plaintiff filed an application to proceed In Forma Pauperis, which included some additional information, namely, that his last date of employment was January 1, 1988. (Document [#3]). Additionally, Plaintiff submitted supplemental documents [#13] [#16], which, in light of Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court will construe as exhibits to the Complaint.*fn4 One of the documents is a letter, dated May 2, 2005, from Reynolds, writing on behalf of Nationwide, to Plaintiff, indicating that Plaintiff is entitled to receive $18.51 per month from Nationwide, pursuant to the terms of the Taxicab Industry Pension Fund contract. The letter further states that, according to Nationwide's records, Plaintiff began receiving such payments on April 1, 1996. In that regard, Plaintiff has also submitted a payment stub, indicating that he received a monthly payment of $18.51 on November 24, 2004, in connection with the Taxicab Industry Pension Fund. Another document appears to be a page from the "Taxicab Industry Pension Plan" summary plan booklet. Additionally, Plaintiff submitted a certified letter, dated November 3, 2005, from Allen S. Mathers, Administrator of SEIU Local 74 Benefits Funds, which states, in relevant part:

Dear Mr. Roshinsky,

SEIU Local 74 is the successor in interest to SEIU Local 3036 by virtue of a merger that became effective on August 15, 1997.

Please be advised there is not now, nor has there ever at any time been a 3036 Taxi Drivers Union Pension program (or other type of defined benefit plan) and thus there are no pension benefits available for you.

Please be further advised that many years ago, there existed a 3036 Annuity Plan, however a search of the records has not shown you were a participant.

This plan has been defunct since before the merger with Local 3036 on August 15, 1997. (Document [#16]). And finally, Plaintiff submitted a decision of the National Labor Relations Board, which indicates that when Local 3036 and Local 74 merged, Local 74 assumed responsibility for the administration of all of Local 3036's funds. See, National Labor Relations Bd. (N.L.R.B.) Metropolitan Taxicab Bd. Of Trade, Inc. and its Constituent Members and Local 74 Service Employees Int'l Union, AFL-CIO, Case 2-CA-31330 (Sep. 28, 2004) ("On June 19, 1997, Ryan and Goldberg signed a document stating: Local 3036 SEIU hereby agrees to merge into SEIU Local 74 subject to the following terms and conditions: . . . Local 74 shall assume all of the collective-bargaining responsibilities and representational rights with Local 3036 as well as the governance and administration of its respective funds.") (emphasis added)

On October 10, 2006, Hahn and "Taxicab Industry Pension Fund" filed an Answer [#6] to the Complaint, denying the Complaint's factual allegations and raising two affirmative defenses, namely, failure to state a claim and improper venue.*fn5 Subsequently, on October 18, 2006, Hahn filed an Amended Answer [#9] solely on behalf of himself, as opposed to himself and Taxicab Industry Pension Fund.

In lieu of answering the complaint, Reynolds and Nationwide filed the subject motion [#11] to dismiss the complaint, or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement. With regard to the motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("FRCP") 12(b)(6), Reynolds and Nationwide contend that the complaint fails to give fair notice of the basis for any claim against them. Alternatively, they contend that if the Court does not dismiss the Complaint that it should order Plaintiff to provide a more definite statement, pursuant to FRCP 12(e), since the Complaint is "vague, ambiguous and unintelligible." (Reynolds/Nationwide Memo of Law [#12] at 10).

On December 15, 2006, Taxicab Industry Pension Fund and Hahn jointly filed the subject motion [#25] to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, for a change of venue. (Notice of Motion [#25]).*fn6 In support of the motion, Hahn, who identifies himself as "internal CPA for Local 74 and the Local 74 Benefit Funds," submitted an affidavit in which he denies that Plaintiff is a beneficiary of any fund or pension plan controlled by Local 74. More specifically, he states that in 1997 Local 74 merged with SEIU Local 3036, known as the "Taxicab Workers Union," and that Local 74 took over the administration of Local 3036's affiliated annuity plan, known as "the Annuity Fund of the Taxi Drivers and Allied Workers Union Local 3036." (Hahn Affidavit ¶ ¶ 4-5). However, Hahn states that Plaintiff is not listed as a participant in Local 3036's annuity plan. Hahn further states that there is another entity, separate from both the Local 74 funds and Local 3036's annuity plan, known the "Taxicab Industry Pension Fund," which was never administered by Local 74. (Id. at ¶ 6). Although, Hahn does not indicate what, if any, connection the Taxicab Industry Pension Fund had to Local 3036. Hahn does state, purportedly based upon documents that he received from the U.S. Department of Labor, that the Taxicab Industry Pension Fund became defunct in 1999. One such document is a Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, which apparently was filed ...

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