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I.A.M. NATL. PENSION FUND BEN. PLAN v. STOCKTON TR

November 29, 1984

I.A.M. NATIONAL PENSION FUND BENEFIT PLAN C, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
STOCKTON TRI INDUSTRIES, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

 Introduction

 This case is before the Court after having been remanded from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. I.A.M. National Pension Fund Benefit Plan C, et al., v. Stockton Tri Industries, 234 U.S. App. D.C. 105, 727 F.2d 1204 (D.C.Cir.1984) ("I.A.M."). Upon consideration of the parties cross motions for summary judgment, oppositions thereto, the entire record herein, and in light of the recent congressional enactment of Section 558 of The Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, Pub.Law No. 98-369 ("Section 558"), 98 Stat. 494, the court hereby grants the defendant's motion for summary judgement.

 Background

 I.A.M. National Fund Benefit Plan C ("The Plan") brought action in this Court to collect withdrawal liability under the retroactive provisions of the Multi-Employer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 ("MPPAA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et seq., from the defendant, Stockton Tri Industries ("Stockton"). On December 2, 1982, this Court granted Summary Judgment in favor of Stockton, holding that, within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 1383(a)(1), Stockton had completely withdrawn from participation in The Plan before the retroactive date upon which MPPAA imposed withdrawal liability. The Court of Appeals interpreted Section 1383(a)(1) differently and reversed this Court's decision, holding that Stockton had not completely withdrawn before the liability date. I.A.M. I, supra, at 1210, 1211. Thereupon, the case was remanded to this Court for consideration of Stockton's other arguments against imposition of withdrawal liability which this Court did not reach in light of its decision on the statutory issue. Id., at 1212.

 I. The Recent Congressional Enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act Voids Any Withdrawal Liability Stockton May Have Heretofore Had.

 In Stockton's original motion for Summary Judgment, it attacked the constitutionality of MPPAA's retroactive withdrawal liability provision. The constitutionality of this provision is no longer in question, however, as it was recently upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. R.A. Gray & Co., 467 U.S. 717, 104 S. Ct. 2709, 81 L. Ed. 2d 601 (1984). Nevertheless, because of the July, 1984, enactment of Section 558 of the Deficit Reduction Act, Stockton has been released from any withdrawal liability which it may have heretofore had.

 Section 558 states that "any withdrawal liability incurred by an employer . . . as a result of the complete or partial withdrawal of such employer from a multiemployer pension plan . . . shall be void." 98 Stat. 899. Thus, The Plan no longer has a cause of action against Stockton, and this suit must be dismissed.

 II. Section 558 Is Constitutional.

 The Plan argues that, because MPPAA afforded The Plan a legal claim against Stockton for withdrawal liability, Section 558 is unconstitutional in that it violates the due process clause of the 5th Amendment by denying them a "vested property right." The Court disagrees.

 First, it is clear that by enacting subsequent statutes Congress may withdraw rights granted by previous statutes without violating any provision of the Constitution. Kline v. Burke Construction Co., 260 U.S. 226, 234, 43 S. Ct. 79, 82, 67 L. Ed. 226 (1922); State of Louisiana v. Mayor, 109 U.S. 285, 287-88, 3 S. Ct. 211, 212-13, 27 L. Ed. 936 (1883); Battaglia v. General Motors Corp., 169 F.2d 254, 259 (2d Cir.1948), cert. denied, 335 U.S. 887, 69 S. Ct. 236, 93 L. Ed. 425 (1948); Murray v. Homestead Valve Mfg. Co., 84 F. Supp. 572, 573 (W.D.Penn.1947). As the United States Supreme Court stated in State of Louisiana :

 
[Where] liability for the damages is created by a law of the legislature, [it] can be withdrawn or limited at [the legislature's] pleasure. . . . The imposition [of the original law] is simply a measure of legislative policy . . . and subject, like all other measures of policy, to any change the legislature may see fit to make. Id. at 287-88, 3 S. Ct. at 212-13.

 Second, any legislation in the field of national economic policy is constitutional so long as it is not arbitrary or irrational. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp., supra, at , 104 S. Ct. at 2717-18.

 
It is by now well established that legislative Acts adjusting the burdens and benefits of economic life come to the court with a presumption of constitutionality, and that the burden is on one complaining of a due process violation to establish that the legislature had acted in an arbitrary and irrational way. See, e.g., Ferguson v. Skrupa, 372 U.S. 726, 83 S. Ct. 1028, 10 L. Ed. 2d 93 (1963); Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483, 487-88, 75 S. Ct. 461, 464, 99 L. Ed. 563 (1955). ( Pension ...

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