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Marta J. Mitchell-White, Individually and On Behalf of Others Similarly Situated v. Northwest Airlines

October 21, 2011

MARTA J. MITCHELL-WHITE, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
NORTHWEST AIRLINES, INC., DELTA AIR LINES, INC., AS SUCCESSOR TO NORTHWEST AIRLINES, INC., AND NORTHWEST AIRLINES PENSION PLAN FOR CONTRACT EMPLOYEES, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from a March 1, 2011 judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Robert P. Patterson, Judge).

11-1294-cv

Mitchell-White v. Northwest Airlines, Inc.

SUMMARY ORDER

Rulings by summary order do not have precedential effect. Citation to summary orders filed on or after January 1, 2007, is permitted and is governed by Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1 and this court's Local Rule 32.1.1. When citing a summary order in a document filed with this court, a party must cite either the Federal Appendix or an electronic database (with the notation "summary order"). A party citing a summary order must serve a copy of it on any party not represented by counsel.

At a stated term of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, held at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, in the City of New York, on the 21st day of October, two thousand eleven.

PRESENT: JOSEPH M. MCLAUGHLIN, JOSE A. CABRANES, DEBRA ANN LIVINGSTON, Circuit Judges.

UPON DUE CONSIDERATION, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the order of the District Court is AFFIRMED.

Plaintiff-appellant Marta J. Mitchell-White, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated, appeals a February 24, 2011 order of the District Court, on which judgment was entered on March 1, 2011, dismissing for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), her age discrimination claim against Northwest Airlines, Inc. ("Northwest"), Delta Air Lines Inc., as successor to Northwest, and Northwest Airlines Pension Plan for Contract Employees ("Pension Plan") (collectively, "defendants"), brought pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA"), and further denying her cross-motion for summary judgment under the ADEA. See Mitchell-White v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 10-cv-2678, 2011 WL 671630 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 24, 2011).

BACKGROUND

We assume the parties' familiarity with the underlying facts, the procedural history of the case, and the issues raised on appeal. Briefly, Mitchell-White worked for Northwest from 1967 until 2003. During her employment at Northwest and after her retirement, she was a participant in the Pension Plan. The Pension Plan offers four types of pension benefits, each with its own eligibility and benefit vesting requirements: (1) Normal Retirement Pension, (2) Early Retirement Pension, (3) Disability Retirement Pension, and (4) Deferred Vested Pension. Normal Retirement Pension is available only to those participants who reach the "Normal Retirement Date," which is defined as "the date the Participant would attain age sixty-five (65) years or, if later, the date which would be the fifth (5th) annual anniversary of the date the Participant first became a Participant." (Pension Plan, § 1.2.18.) Under the Pension Plan, if participants retires before the age of 65 and is eligible to receive an Early Retirement Pension, Disability Retirement Pension, or Deferred Vested Pension, the monthly amount payable under their respective pensions "shall be reduced by [any] Workers' Compensation Benefits" they receive upon reaching the age of 65. (Pension Plan, §§ 3.2.2, 3.3.2 and 3.4.2.)

In 2005, Mitchell-White elected to receive an Early Retirement Pension of $1,685.64 per month under the Pension Plan and also began receiving Workers' Compensation benefits of $380.00 per week. She turned 65 in February 2006 but continued to receive the full monthly pension benefit concurrently with her Workers' Compensation benefits. In June 2008, Mitchell-White received a letter from the Pension Plan stating that her monthly pension would thereafter be offset by the amount of her Workers' Compensation benefits, as it should have been from the time she achieved the age of 65.

On April 8, 2009, Mitchell-White filed a Charge of Discrimination against Northwest and the Pension Plan with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that Northwest violated the ADEA by reducing pension benefits to offset Workers' Compensation benefits once a participant reached the age of 65. While her Charge was pending, Delta became the successor to Northwest. On January 7, 2010, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue for violations of the ADEA.

On March 25, 2010, Mitchell-White filed a complaint in the District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that the age-triggered Pension Plan violates ADEA § 4(a), 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1), which provides that it is unlawful for an employer "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of the individual's age." Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on June 4, 2010, and Mitchell-White filed a notice of cross- motion for partial summary judgment on June 18, 2010. On February 24, 2011, the District Court issued an opinion ...


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