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Palmatier v. Lockheed Martin Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 15, 2014

BRUCE E. PALMATIER, Plaintiff,
v.
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP. (LMC); DONALD R. REMSCH; KNOLLS ATOMIC POWER LABORATORY (KAPL INC.); DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE), Nuclear Reactors, Prime Contract Administrator; and BECHTEL MARINE PROPULSION CORPORATION (BMPC), Defendants.

BRUCE E. PALMATIER, pro se Gilbert, AZ, of Counsel.

NIXON PEABODY LLP, JOHN E. HIGGINS, ESQ., Albany, NY, Attorneys for Defendants Lockheed Martin Corp., Remsch, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, and Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, KAREN FOLSTER LESPERANCE, ESQ., Ass't United States Attorney, James T. Foley U.S. Courthouse Albany, NY, Attorneys for Defendant Department of Energy.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

DAVID N. HURD, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Proceeding pro se, plaintiff Bruce E. Palmatier ("plaintiff" or "Palmatier") initiated this action on February 4, 2013. He filed an amended complaint on April 24, 2013, asserting eleven causes of action against defendants Lockheed Martin Corp. ("Lockheed"), Donald R. Remsch ("Remsch"), Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory ("KAPL"), the United States Department of Energy ("DOE"), and Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corp. ("BMPC"). Plaintiff alleges various flaws in the management and distribution of his retirement pension account. His claims include breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of the Internal Revenue Code.[1]

On July 15, 2013, the non-governmental defendants[2] filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ("Rule __") or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. The DOE filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on September 3, 2013.

Following several extensions of the response and reply deadlines, as well as the resolution of plaintiff's objections to an order of Hon. Christian F. Hummel, United States Magistrate Judge, both motions to dismiss are now fully briefed and have been considered on submit without oral argument.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts, taken from the amended complaint and clarified by plaintiff's opposition papers, are assumed true for purposes of the motions to dismiss. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc. , 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002).

Palmatier enjoyed a decades-long career as an electrician and engineer. He worked at General Electric ("GE") from 1965 to 1986. He then worked at KAPL as an Electrical Specialist in Maintenance Engineering from 1986 to 1996. Consistent with this work history, the assets from his pension fund account were transferred from a plan originally managed by GE to one managed by KAPL in 1986. The management of this account was again transferred in 1994, from KAPL to Lockheed, and in February 2009, from Lockheed to BMPC.[3]

In January 2007, as he prepared to retire, Palmatier requested documentation summarizing his pension payout amount. He received a "Benefit Commencement Package" from Remsch, the Senior Manager of Pension Plan Operations at Lockheed, indicating he would be paid $2884.59 per month, plus a $204.90 monthly supplement and a $300 monthly special supplement. Based on this information, he signed the necessary paperwork, and officially retired on February 1, 2007. Approximately four months later, however, plaintiff's monthly pension payment decreased to $1757.08. He was not provided with a complete and accurate accounting of his pension fund, nor did he receive an explanation for the reduction in his monthly payout. The applicable pension plan is entitled: "Pension Plan for KAPL Employees in Participating Bargaining Units."

Palmatier specifically faults defendants for failing to properly disclose the percentage of employer/employee contributions and accrued interest added to his pension fund during the course of his career.[4] He alleges that the calculations related to these sums are improper and/or fraudulent. He also claims the "pay stubs" he receives with his monthly pension payment do not identify the amounts deducted for health care and insurance premiums. Am. Compl., ΒΆ 38, ECF No. 25. Finally, he asserts that his health care insurance carrier, premiums, and coverage have changed every year since he retired and that his access to a $1500 union-negotiated health care subsidy has been blocked by defendants' failure to timely provide documents to the pension plan management subcontractor.[5]

III. DISCUSSION

Generally, Palmatier claims defendants fraudulently induced him into accepting an early retirement, unilaterally reduced his promised monthly pension payment by over one thousand dollars, prevented him from receiving a health care subsidy, and failed to provide certain documents or adequate explanations for actions taken with regard to the management of his pension account.

The non-governmental defendants maintain that the amended complaint must be dismissed because: (1) most of Palmatier's claims are barred by a settlement agreement and general release he voluntarily signed on November 23, 2010, in Meacham v. KAPL, Inc.; (2) the Internal Revenue Code does not provide for a private cause of action; (3) all common law claims are preempted by ...


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