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Caban v. Employees Security Fund of The Electrical Products Industries Pension Plan

United States District Court, E.D. New York

November 18, 2014


Supplemental Memorandum & Order

STEVEN M. GOLD, Magistrate Judge.


Plaintiff William Caban worked as an electrician for several years before he sustained a disabling injury in 2005. Caban has been awarded a disability pension from a fund administered by the Joint Industry Board of the Electrical Industry. Caban brings this action pursuant to ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132, claiming for a variety of reasons that he is entitled to a larger monthly pension payable at an earlier date than it commenced.

I issued a Memorandum and Order on April 28, 2014 granting summary judgment to defendants with respect to most of Caban's contentions. Memorandum and Order ("Order"), Docket Entry 51. I did not, however, reach certain questions about how the amount of Caban's pension was calculated. More specifically, I denied summary judgment with respect to two issues: first, whether plaintiff worked continuously during a period of time material to the determination of one or more relevant pension credit rates, and second, whether plaintiff was receiving a rate of pay immediately before his breaks in service that was higher than the rate attributed to him by defendants. Order at 24.

Because I concluded that the parties' submissions did not adequately address these issues, I offered them the opportunity to submit further briefing. Plaintiff submitted an additional memorandum of law, Docket Entry 55 ("Pl. Supp. Mem."), and affidavit, Docket Entry 56 ("Caban Supp. Aff."), and defendants responded in kind, filing a memorandum of law, Docket Entry 57 ("Def. Supp. Mem.") and declaration, Docket Entry 58 ("DeChiara Supp. Decl."). Plaintiff then submitted a reply, Docket Entry 61 ("Pl. Supp. Reply Mem."). Because plaintiff's submissions raised new issues, I entered an Order affording defendants the opportunity for further briefing and directed them to address several specific questions. Docket Entry 65. Defendants then submitted another memorandum of law, Docket Entry 66 ("Def. Supp. Reply Mem.") and declaration, Docket Entry 67 ("Chanzis Supp. Reply Decl."). Having considered the extensive briefing submitted by the parties, and for the reasons stated below, defendants' motion for summary judgment is now granted in its entirety.


As indicated above, the only questions left unresolved by the Memorandum and Order issued on April 28, 2014 were whether plaintiff worked more years or earned higher wages than acknowledged by defendants and, if so, whether that additional work or pay would have affected the amount of plaintiff's pension. Plaintiff's supplemental submissions fail to raise a material question of fact with respect to either issue.

A. Plaintiff's Work History

Plaintiff first points out that my Order of April 28, 2014 incorrectly stated that he did not work from 1984 to 1998. Order at 24.[1] Plaintiff asserts that he was in fact employed by the Neo Ray Corporation for four of those fourteen years, from 1984 through 1988. Caban Supp. Aff. ¶ 3. However, plaintiff does not demonstrate or even contend that this inaccuracy affected the calculation of his pension. To the contrary, plaintiff's employment from 1984 through 1988 is undisputed, and it is clear that defendants took his employment during those years into account when determining his pension amount. Pension Worksheet, Defs. Ex. A, Docket Entry 39-1 at 2.

B. The Sixth Amendment to the PTF Plan

Plaintiff's second argument is that defendants relied on pension plan provisions that had already been amended when they calculated his pension benefits. As discussed at length in the Order, defendants determined the amount of plaintiff's pension pursuant to the terms of the Pension, Hospitalization and Benefit Plan of the Electrical Industry, or the "PTF Plan." Plaintiff applied for his pension in 2007, and defendants notified him in 2012 that he was eligible for a disability pension effective as of July 1, 2007. Order at 5. Plaintiff contends that Sections 4.07 and 4.09 of the PTF Plan were amended in 2002, but that defendants relied upon earlier versions of these sections when they calculated the amount of his pension benefit. According to plaintiff, application of the amended provisions, part of the Sixth Amendment to the PTF Plan, would have resulted in a substantially higher pension amount. Defendants counter that the amendments had not yet been adopted at the time plaintiff applied for his pension and that, even if they had been, their application to plaintiff's benefit calculation would not have changed the amount of the pension he was awarded.

Plaintiff's contention that the Sixth Amendment to the plan came into effect in 2002 is based in part on the cover sheet and preamble included with the version of the plan submitted by defendants as part of their original motion papers. Pl. Supp. Reply Mem. at 2 et seq. As plaintiff correctly notes, the cover sheet of the PTF Plan as submitted by defendants includes the notation, "Amended effective October 1, 2002 except as otherwise indicated." Defs. Ex. F at D-189, Docket Entry 39-1 at 20. The plan's preamble likewise states that "[t]he following document contains the provisions of the... [Plan] as amended as of October 1, 2002 and restated effective Janaury 1, 1997." Defs. Ex. F at D-191, Docket Entry 39-1 at 22. The pages that follow, however, clearly comprise a complete version of the plan, as well as eleven sets of amendments.[2] Some of the amendments are dated; the eleventh amendment, for example, is dated February 24, 2010. Defs. Ex. F at D-287, Docket Entry 39-1 at 118. The references to the year 2002 in the preamble and cover sheet relied upon by plaintiff thus plainly do not refer to the attached amendments.

The Sixth Amendment to the PTF Plan is undated and unsigned. Defs. Ex. F at D-270, Docket Entry 39-1 at 101. However, defendants have submitted the declaration of the Joint Industry Board's Director of Administration, Mark Chanzis, in which Chanzis asserts that the Sixth Amendment was adopted on December 19, 2007. Chanzis Supp. Reply Decl. ¶ 8. Defendants have also submitted the minutes of a meeting of the Joint Board's Pension Committee held on December 19, 2007, reflecting the Committee's approval of the Sixth Amendment to the Plan on that date. DeChiara Supp. Decl. Ex. A. Plaintiff does not counter this showing with any admissible evidence suggesting that the Sixth Amendment was adopted on an earlier date. Plaintiff has thus failed to raise a material question of fact with respect to whether the Sixth Amendment was in effect at the time he applied for a disability pension.

Plaintiff argues in the alternative, however, that defendants should have applied the terms of the Sixth Amendment even if it was not adopted until December 19, 2007, because defendants did not approve his pension application until after that date. Plaintiff does not explain, however, why it was arbitrary or capricious for defendants to apply the version of the plan in effect when plaintiff applied for ...

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