The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRIS
This is an action for a declaration that certain liabilities were properly transferred from the plaintiff employee benefit plan to the defendant employee benefit plan in accordance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) as amended by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (MPPAA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. Before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment by the plaintiffs, I.A.M. National Pension Benefit Plan A and its Board of Trustees (the IAM Plan), and the defendants Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Health and Welfare and Pension Funds, its Trustees and nine individual former employees of Lee Way Motor Freight, Inc. (Central States). Upon consideration of the pleadings and the entire record herein, the Court finds that there is no material factual issue in dispute. Upon consideration of the pleadings and the entire record, the Court grants plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denies defendants' motion for summary judgment.
The IAM Plan is a multiemployer pension plan within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 1002(37) that was established to provide retirement benefits to eligible employees represented by District and Local Lodges affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Central States is also a multiemployer pension plan which provides retirement benefits to employees represented by affiliates of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America (the Teamsters). Employees at Lee Way Motor Freight, Inc. (Lee Way), were originally represented by IAM Local Lodge 850, until members of the Oklahoma City facility of Lee Way elected to change their collective bargaining representative to a Teamsters' affiliate. Effective April 1, 1982, Lee Way ceased making contributions to the IAM Plan and began contributing to Central States on behalf of its Oklahoma City employees.
By a letter dated April 30, 1982, Lee Way notified the IAM Plan that, effective April 1, 1982, there had been a certified change of the collective bargaining representative for Lee Way's Oklahoma facility and that, as a result, Lee Way henceforth would be making contributions on behalf of its Oklahoma City employees to Central States. Consistent therewith, effective April 1, 1982, Lee Way ceased making contributions to the IAM Plan and began contributing to Central States on behalf of its Oklahoma City employees.
IAM and its trustees determined that the withdrawal by Lee Way employees was a partial withdrawal since the Lee Way facilities in both El Paso, Texas, and Los Angeles, California, continued to participate in IAM Plan A. By following the mandate of ERISA § 4206(a), 29 U.S.C. § 1386(a), IAM discovered that it could not calculate partial withdrawal liability until early 1984, as a partial withdrawal liability determination cannot be made until one full plan year has elapsed after the partial withdrawal occurs.
On June 7, 1984, the IAM Plan notified Central States of the benefits, assets and liabilities to be transferred to it pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1415. Central States replied on June 25, 1984, by a letter requesting information that it considered relevant to the transfer. The IAM Plan responded on August 2, 1984, by acknowledging the request, and providing the information to the extent possible.
It was not until June 7, 1985, that Central States filed an appeal with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) concerning the proposed transfer. Since 29 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(3) provides the transferee plan 60 days in which to appeal a transfer, the PBGC dismissed Central States' appeal as untimely.
Plaintiffs filed the present action for a declaration that the transfer to Central States was effected in compliance with 29 U.S.C. § 1415. Furthermore, plaintiffs move for summary judgment requesting that Central States should immediately commence paying pension benefits to the named individual defendants and all other subsequent eligible applicants as of April 1, 1982, the effective date of the change in collective bargaining representation. In addition, plaintiffs move to be reimbursed for all benefit payments made to the named individual defendants subsequent to April 1, 1982, plus interest thereon. Defendants also move for summary judgment, claiming that the liability transfer notice by the IAM Plan was invalid, so that there has been no effective transfer of such liability. Defendants also seek to recover their costs from the plaintiffs.
ERISA § 4235, 29 U.S.C. § 1415, specifically enumerates the steps that employers and plan sponsors must take after a change has been made in collective bargaining representation. Section 1415(a) states that:
It is the duty of the employer to notify the sponsor of the old plan that such a change in multiemployer plan participation has occurred. 29 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(1). After the change occurs, the employer has 30 days in which to notify the old plan. Id.
Lee Way complied with statutory requirements by notifying IAM on April 30, 1982, that it had stopped contributing to IAM Local Lodge 850 effective April 1, 1982, and that it had certified the Teamsters as the new collective bargaining representative for its Oklahoma City employees. Such notification made it necessary for IAM to prepare to transfer all relevant assets and liabilities to Central States. Section 1415(b)(2)(B) specifically states that the plan sponsor of the old plan shall:
notify the plan sponsor of the new plan of the benefits, assets, and liabilities which will be ...