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Testa v. Becker

United States District Court, W.D. New York

October 30, 2013

ROBERT TESTA, Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE BECKER, as plan administrator of the Xerox Corporation Retirement Income Guarantee Plan, XEROX CORPORATION RETIREMENT INCOME GUARANTEE PLAN, an Employee Pension Benefit Plan, Defendants

For Robert Testa, an individual, Plaintiff: Amber M. Ziegler, John A. Strain, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Law Offices of John A Strain, Manhattan Beach, CA; Matthew J. Fusco, LEAD ATTORNEY, Chamberlain, D'Amanda, Oppenheimer & Greenfield, LLP, Rochester, NY; K. Wade Eaton, Chamberlain, D'Amanda, Oppenheimer & Greenfield, Rochester, NY.

For Lawrence Becker, as plan administrator of the Xerox Corporation Retirement Income Guarantee Plan, Xerox Corporation Retirement Income Guarantee Plan, an Employee Pension Benefit Plan, Defendants: Richard J Pautler, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Thompson Coburn LLC, St. Louis, MO; Margaret A. Clemens, Pamela S.C. Reynolds, Littler Mendelson, P.C., Rochester, NY.

OPINION

Page 380

DECISION AND ORDER

DAVID G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Robert Testa brings this action against the Xerox Corporation Retirement Income Guarantee Plan (" RIGP" ) and the administrator of the RIGP, alleging that his pension benefits have been reduced in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (" ERISA" ), 29 U.S.C.§ 1101 et seq . Testa brought this action in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in January 2010, and the action was transferred to this Court in April 2010, based upon a forum selection clause in one of the relevant documents. That clause was added to the RIGP in July 2008.

Testa worked for Xerox Corporation over several periods from 1972 until his retirement in 2008. While he worked at Xerox, Testa was a participant in the RIGP. When he left Xerox's employ in 1983, plaintiff took a lump-sum distribution of the then-present value of his pension benefit. Testa returned to work for Xerox in 1985, and ultimately retired from Xerox in August 2008. Complaint ¶ 53.

After Testa retired, defendants calculated his pension benefit. Plaintiff alleges that his benefit is significantly lower than it should be, due to the application of a " phantom account" offset to his benefit. That offset is so called because it involves defendants' deduction from a participant's pension benefit, not only of the amount of the lump sum that the participant received when he first left Xerox, but also a sum representing the hypothetical interest that the lump sum would have earned had it remained in the pension plan until the employee's retirement at the end of his final period of employment with Xerox.

In his complaint, plaintiff asserts four causes of action. The first two claims are for pension benefits, under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B). The first is based on the text of the RIGP, and the second on disclosures contained in the summary plan description (" SPD" ). The third and fourth claims allege a breach of defendants' fiduciary duties, pursuant to ERISA § 502(a)(3), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3). The third cause of action seeks " to enforce [the] Ninth Circuit order" in Miller, and the fourth seeks unspecified " other appropriate relief." Plaintiff seeks benefits, injunctive relief and attorney's fees.

Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint, mostly on the ground that plaintiff's claims are time-barred. Defendants also contend that plaintiff's claims under § 502(a)(3) are barred because

Page 381

plaintiff is essentially seeking benefits under the Plan, which can only be sought ...


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