United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
DONALD M. BERRY, Plaintiff,
RETIREMENT BENEFIT PLAN OF AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC. FOR EMPLOYEES REPRESENTED BY THE TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, an ERISA plan, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. DOWDELL, JUDGE
Donald M. Berry brings this claim under the Employment Income
Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §
1001, et seq., to challenge Defendant's
calculation of his retirement benefit. (Doc. 2). Plaintiff
claims that Defendant inappropriately refused to credit the
years from Plaintiff's first two terms of employment with
American Airlines, Inc. (Doc. 31 at 1-2). After a thorough
review of the Administrative Record, the Court has determined
that Defendant's denial of Plaintiff's claim should
employment history with American Airlines, Inc., included
three separate terms of employment:
1. April 3, 1967, through July 14, 1972;
2. January 8, 1973, through December 30, 1977; and
3. September 19, 1983, through January 30, 2004.
(Doc. 31 at 1; Rec. 20). During Plaintiff's first term of
employment, the retirement plan in effect was the plan
effective January 1, 1964, as amended on May 1, 1967 (the
“1967 Plan”). The plan in effect during
Plaintiff's second term with American Airlines was the
plan as amended and restated effective January 1, 1976 (the
“1976 Plan”). The retirement plan as amended and
restated effective January 1, 2003 (the “2003
Plan”) was in effect when Plaintiff retired in 2004.
retirement, Plaintiff applied for and received a retirement
benefit based only on his third term of employment. Plaintiff
then made a claim for additional years of service to be
included in his benefit, which was initially denied and later
denied on appeal to the company's Pension Benefits
Administration Committee (the “Committee”). (Rec.
Objections to the Administrative Record
Court will first address Plaintiff's objections to the
Administrative Record (the “Record”). Many of
these objections were resolved by the Court in its March 22,
2016 Order (Doc. 33 at 4-6), but a few additional objections
have not yet been addressed.
of all, Plaintiff takes issue with the fact that the version
of the 1976 Plan included in the Record appears to be dated
“March 1981.” (See Rec. at 252).
Plaintiff contends that this version of the Plan includes
amendments made after Plaintiff resigned in 1977. (Doc. 31 at
4). However, it appears that changes made to the Plan were
given specific “effective dates” that clarify
which provisions came into effect after Plaintiff's
resignation. The Court finds that additional discovery on
this issue is unnecessary, as the Court will consider these
“effective dates” in evaluating the
reasonableness of Defendant's decision.
further argues that the Record “does not indicate what
benefit Plaintiff is getting, nor how it was
calculated.” (Doc. 31 at 4). The Court finds this
objection to be meritless. In fact, the Record contains many
pages of detailed information showing how Defendant
calculated Plaintiff's retirement benefit. (See,
e.g., Rec. 183-84, 187-193, 195-205, 208-210).
makes two arguments that the Court will address in its
discussion of the appropriate standard of review: first, that
his denial letter from Defendant was insufficient (Doc. 31 at
4) and, second, that the Record should include documentation
regarding the authority of the decision maker in his