107 F.3d 11 (6th Cir. 1997), 95-3710, International Union, United Auto., Aerospace & Agr. Implement Workers of America v. Loral Corp.

Docket Nº:95-3710, 95-3711.
Citation:107 F.3d 11
Party Name:INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE & AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT WORKERS OF AMERICA, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. LORAL CORPORATION and Aircraft Braking Systems Corporation, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:February 03, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 11

107 F.3d 11 (6th Cir. 1997)

INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE & AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT WORKERS OF AMERICA, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

LORAL CORPORATION and Aircraft Braking Systems Corporation, Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 95-3710, 95-3711.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

February 3, 1997

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA6 Rule 28 and FI CTA6 IOP 206 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, No. 92-02391; David D. Dowd, Jr., Judge.

N.D.Ohio

AFFIRMED.

Before: KEITH, BOGGS, and COLE, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM.

Loral Corporation ("Loral") and Aircraft Braking Corporation ("ABS") appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs ("Union") in this ERISA action to determine whether a collective bargaining agreement and accompanying pension plan documents gave retired workers vested pensions benefits. Loral and ABS also appeal the district court's award of attorney's fees to the Union. For the reasons that follow, we affirm both rulings.

I

The dispute concerns a business in Akron, Ohio, once owned by Goodyear Aerospace Corporation ("Goodyear"). Loral purchased the business from Goodyear in 1987, and ABS (by its parent, K & F Industries) purchased the business from Loral in 1989. Both Loral and ABS assumed the employment and pension obligations of their predecessors-in-interest.

The Union represents ex-employees who retired under various versions of the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the various employers ("CBA") and the accompanying Pension Insurance and Service Award Agreement ("Pension Plan"). The parties agreed to a CBA and a Pension Plan in 1985 and again in 1988.

In 1991, the parties could not reach agreement on a new CBA and Pension Plan. In the absence of an agreement, ABS implemented its final (rejected) bargaining proposal. This proposal included a reduction in retirement benefits for those employees who would retire after 1991. Loral and ABS continued to pay hourly employees who retired between March 12, 1987 and October 14, 1991 (the retirees at issue in this case) the full amount of health benefits provided in the 1985-88 and 1988-91 CBAs and Pension Plans.

On June 1, 1992, Loral (for retirees through 1989) and ABS (for post-1989 retirees) unilaterally reduced the health benefits of the employees who retired under the previous CBAs and Pension Plans, instituting a co-payment plan for both treatment and prescription drugs, eliminating dental coverage, and capping Medicare reimbursements. The Union then brought this action for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief.

After discovery, both parties moved for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. The court found that the relevant CBA and Pension Plan provisions, although not a model of clarity, expressed an intent that retiree health benefits vest. Accordingly, the court held that the defendants had breached the CBA and violated the terms of the Pension Plan by unilaterally decreasing these benefits. After hearing various motions concerning appropriate remedies, the court awarded the Union a permanent injunction, damages, and attorney's fees. Loral and ABS filed a timely notice of appeal.

II

As a matter of federal law, an employer who promises to pay...

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