United States Third Circuit

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Cottillion v. United Refining Co., 13-4633

In this Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) case, plaintiff-employees allege that defendant United Refining Company and co-defendants, in amending their pension plans to reduce their benefits, deprived them of a benefit to which they were entitled in violation of 29 U.S.C. section 1132(a)(1)(B) and ERISA's anti-cutback rule, section 1054(g), which prohibits employers from amending a plan in a way that reduces benefits accrued under a defined benefit plan such as the one at issue here. Summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs is affirmed, where: 1) defendants provided detailed pension plans that clearly explained how to calculate payments owed to those who earned accrued benefits and left their employment situation before they were eligible to receive them, as with the employees here; 2) the Plans' method of calculation did not include an actuarial adjustment for participants who took benefits before turning 65, and ERISA forbids defendants from drafting those reductions into the Plans whether by amendment, "interpretation," or otherwise; and 3) defendants must therefore pay plaintiffs what it originally promised.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 03/18/2015
  • Published 03/18/2015

Judges

  • Ambro

Court

  • United States Third Circuit

Counsel