United States Third Circuit

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Hooven v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 04-3773, 05-1610

In a case arising out of a dispute over whether employees divested in connection with a merger between Mobil Corporation and Exxon Corporation are entitled to severance benefits, a judgment in favor of plaintiffs on a breach of contract claim is reversed where: 1) the district court erred in characterizing an initial summary plan description (SPD) as a unilateral contract the terms of which became fixed as the employees performed; 2) the starting point for plaintiffs- claim was ERISA, not the common law of contracts; 3) under that framework, plaintiffs- rights to benefits under the initial SPD never became due; and 4) the plan documents that were in effect when plaintiffs- claim to benefits would have accrued clearly established that they are ineligible for severance.

Appellate Information

  • Argued 07/10/2006
  • Decided 10/20/2006
  • Published 10/20/2006

Judges

  • RENDELL, Circuit Judge., Before SLOVITER, McKEE and RENDELL, Circuit Judges.

Court

  • United States Third Circuit

Counsel

  • For Appellant:
  • Mark S. Dichter, [Argued], Jeremy P. Blumenfeld, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia, PA, David M. Rivet, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Houston, TX, Richard G. Rosenblatt, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Princeton, NJ, for Appellants Exxon Mobil Corporation;  Mobil Corporation Employee Severance Plan.

  • For Appellees:
  • John A. Guernsey, [Argued], Paul J. Greco, Colleen M. Johns, Frank M. Emmerich, Jr., Conrad, O'Brien, Gellman & Rohn, Philadelphia, PA, for Appellees in No. 04-3773, Joe A. Hooven;  Michael Aversano;  Ainars Bluss;  T.B. Bottolfson;  D.R. Clarizio;  Stan Conley;  Edmund E. Davis, Sr.;  Paul E. Doxey;  Jack F. Dunleavy;  Christopher G. Gibson;  Roger A. Hendler;  J.K. Hooven;  Romulus Vance Houck, III;  Todd Howard;  D. Hrinak;  J.D. Humphreys;  William J. Helfrich;  H.J. Klein;  A.R. Kline;  R.J. Kopcha;  Franklin W. Lee;  R.E. Little;  Joanne Lima;  J. Lutz;  E.T. McMurphy;  S.A. Mendolia;  Steve Mercurio;  Clark D. Miller;  Michael L. Millman;  G.A. Milne;  Daniel G. Moore;  B.L. Morgan;  P.M. Porohnavi;  Patricia V. Rose;  Jean Valenza-Rubino;  Shelly C. Sharer;  James R. Slusher;  M.W. Stump;  D.M. Sullivan;  Linda N. Sutphin;  Darrel R. Taylor;  Thomas P. Thompson;  John Troy;  Donald A. Twele;  Carroll S. Wagner;  Laura Waks;  Joe D. Woodward;  John H. Woolfolk;  E. Christine Copley;  E. Jackson;  L. Young;  Suzanne Michaud., John A. Guernsey, [Argued], Paul J. Greco, Colleen M. Johns, Frank M. Emmerich, Jr., Conrad, O'Brien, Gellman & Rohn, Philadelphia, PA, for Appellees in No. 05-1610, Joe A. Hooven;  Michael Aversano;  Ainars Bluss;  T.B. Bottolfson;  D.R. Clarizio;  Stan Conley;  Edmund E. Davis, Sr;  Paul E. Doxey;  Jack F. Dunleary;  Christopher G. Gibson;  Roger A. Hendler;  J.K. Hooven;  Romulus Vance Houck, III;  Todd Howard;  D. Hrinak;  J.D. Humphreys;  H.J. Klein;  A.R. Kline;  R.J. Kopcha;  Franklin W. Lee;  R.E. Little;  Joanne Lima;  J. Lutz;  E.T. McMurphy;  S.A. Mendolia;  Steve Mercuric;  Clark D. Miller;  Michael L. Millman;  G.A. Milne;  Daniel G. Moore;  B.L. Morgan;  P.M. Porohnavi;  Patricia V. Rose;  Jean Valenza-Rubino;  Shelly C. Sharer;  James R. Slusher;  M.W. Stump;  D.M. Sullivan;  Linda N. Sutphin;  Darrel R. Taylor;  Thomas P. Thompson;  John Troy;  Donald A. Twele;  Carroll S. Wagner;  Laura Waks;  Joe D. Woodward;  John H. Woolfolk;  E. Christine Copley;  E. Jackson;  L. Young;  Suzanne Michaud;  William J. Helfrich.
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