139 F.3d 1177 (8th Cir. 1998), 97-2291, Clough v. Voyager Group, Inc.

Docket Nº:97-2291.
Citation:139 F.3d 1177
Party Name:George J. CLOUGH, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. VOYAGER GROUP, INC., a Corporation; Transport Life Insurance Company, a Corporation; Primerica Life Insurance Company, formerly known as Massachusetts Indemnity and Life Insurance Company; Travelers Group, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:March 23, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 1177

139 F.3d 1177 (8th Cir. 1998)

George J. CLOUGH, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

VOYAGER GROUP, INC., a Corporation; Transport Life

Insurance Company, a Corporation; Primerica Life Insurance

Company, formerly known as Massachusetts Indemnity and Life

Insurance Company; Travelers Group, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 97-2291.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 23, 1998

Submitted Jan. 12, 1998.

Joshua M. Schindler, Clayton, MO, argued (Merle L. Silverstein, Clayton, MO, on the brief), for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Keith A. Rabenberg, St. Louis, MO, argued (Glenn E. Davis, St. Louis, MO, on the brief), for Defendants-Appellees.

Before LOKEN and MURPHY, Circuit Judges, and ALSOP, District Judge. 1

Page 1178

MURPHY, Circuit Judge.

George Clough was an executive in an insurance business which underwent several changes over the years due to corporate reorganization and relocation, and he ultimately had responsibility for downsizing and phasing out the St. Louis operation of the business. He sued appellee companies under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. (ERISA), after they denied his claim for severance benefits. After a trial to the court, 2 judgment was entered in favor of the companies. He appeals from the judgment, and we affirm.

Clough began working for Penn Life Insurance Company (Penn) in 1972 as an executive vice president in its St. Louis division. Penn was a subsidiary of American Can Company (American). Over time the corporate structure changed as Penn merged with Massachusetts Indemnity and Life Insurance Company and then with several other American subsidiaries in an umbrella holding company called PennCorp Group Management. Clough became the chief operating officer of PennCorp and handled the company's credit insurance business, its training programs, oversight of the finance and credit departments, marketing and administration for a car rental insurance division, and all daily operations of some three hundred employees in St. Louis.

In 1987 American began transferring most of the functions of the St. Louis office to another subsidiary, Voyager Group, Inc. (Voyager), in Jacksonville, Florida. 3 In order to encourage the managers and officers in the St. Louis office to remain during the transition, PennCorp established in 1987 a severance award program and "stay bonus" plan that would become payable when a recipient's...

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