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Bozena Sarnecka-Crouch v. James Billington

January 9, 2012

BOZENA SARNECKA-CROUCH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAMES BILLINGTON, LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Facciola United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Now pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Notice of Motion and Motion to Reopen and to Enforce the Stipulation of Settlement and Dismissal [#50]. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion will be granted insofar as the Court concludes that, as the defendant concedes, it has jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement and that it should exercise ancillary jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim for damages for the asserted delay in the defendant's complying with the terms of the settlement agreement.

Background

1. This case settled on September 24, 2009. Stipulation of Settlement and Dismissal [#48].

2. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, defendant agreed to pay plaintiff a total sum of two hundred seventy five thousand ($275,000) dollars. Id. at 1.

3. Of that total sum, $150,000 was to be paid by the Library of Congress directly in two installments, in the following manner: 1) defendant was to promote plaintiff to grade GS-15 step 10 level retroactive to October 20, 2005, and apply a portion of the settlement payment to fund the cost of plaintiff's increased retirement benefits, which defendant initially estimated to be $89,000; 2) defendant was to pay the remainder of the settlement payment to plaintiff as a lump sum payment; 3) defendant was to amend plaintiff's personnel folder to reflect her reinstatement and promotion; and 4) defendant was to pay both its and plaintiff's mandatory contributions that were to be attributable to plaintiff's reinstatement and promotion, including Social Security, the Federal Employees Retirement System ("FERS"), Medicare and all "breakage" as defined in 5 C.F.R. § 1605.1(b),*fn1 associated with plaintiff's Thrift Savings Plan account. Id. at 3.

4. Additionally, defendant was to ensure that plaintiff would be able to retire from the federal service with plaintiff's length of service at the grade GS 15 step 10 level, measured from October 20, 2005. Id.

5. The language at issue in the settlement concerning the retroactive promotion and reinstatement of plaintiff at GS-15 step 10 level reads as follows:

Reinstatement and Retroactive Promotion. Defendant shall amend plaintiff's Official Personnel Folder to reflect her reinstatement as a Library employee and promotion to the grade GS-15 step 10 level, retroactive to October 20, 2005. Plaintiff shall not receive any back pay, cost-of-living increases, or other payments, over and above the settlement payment in paragraph 1 hereof, on account of this retroactive promotion; provided, however, that defendant shall pay: (I) both the agency's and the plaintiff's mandatory contributions that are attributable to plaintiff's reinstatement and retroactive promotion, including, but not limited to, Social Security, the Federal Employees Retirement System, medicare, and the Thrift Savings Plan, and (ii) all "breakage," as defined in 5 C.F.R. § 1605.1(b), associated with plaintiff's Thrift Savings Plan account, as determined by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. Defendant shall also take all other steps necessary on defendant's part to enable plaintiff to retire from the federal service with plaintiff's length of service at the grade GS-15 step 10 level, measured from October 20, 2005. These steps shall include, but are not limited to, initiation of the process of re-coding plaintiff's employment data to effectuate her reinstatement and retroactive promotion. [#48] at 3.

6. On November 20, 2009, defendant's counsel notified plaintiff's counsel that the actual cost of mandatory contributions necessary to fund plaintiff's increased retirement benefits was actually $99,550.26, and plaintiff received a lump some payment for $51,449.74 on November 27, 2009. [#50] at 4-5.

7. On December 8, 2009, plaintiff's counsel received an email from defendant's counsel stating that the "final cost calculation was conservative (and the final cost amount was actually more than $99,000). However, the Library authorized payment of the $51,449.74 [and plaintiff] will receive no reduction in the agreed-upon benefits as a result of the greater cost to the library." Id. at 5 (internal citation removed).

8. On May 24, 2010, plaintiff's counsel was informed by defendant's counsel that the final cost was in fact $132,178.25. Id.

9. Plaintiff first received an increase in her FERS benefit in 2010. Id.

10. Plaintiff received W-2 forms for years 2006-2009 that reflected Social Security and Medicare income and withholdings consistent with the settlement agreement, except for the year 2009 W-2, which was slightly less ...


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