690 F.2d 323 (2nd Cir. 1982), 689, Stone & Webster Engineering Corp. v. Ilsley

Docket Nº:689, 990, Dockets 81-7640, 81-7660.
Citation:690 F.2d 323
Party Name:STONE & WEBSTER ENGINEERING CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. David B. ILSLEY; Robin W. Waller, Workers Compensation Commissioner, Second District, State of Connecticut; John A. Arcudi, Chairman, Board of Compensation Commissioners, State of Connecticut; Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 676; and National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Welfare Fund, De
Case Date:September 30, 1982
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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690 F.2d 323 (2nd Cir. 1982)

STONE & WEBSTER ENGINEERING CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

David B. ILSLEY; Robin W. Waller, Workers Compensation

Commissioner, Second District, State of Connecticut; John A.

Arcudi, Chairman, Board of Compensation Commissioners, State

of Connecticut; Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 676; and

National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Welfare Fund, Defendants,

David B. Ilsley; Robin W. Waller, Workers Compensation

Commissioner, Second District, State of Connecticut; John A.

Arcudi, Chairman, Board of Compensation Commissioners, State

of Connecticut; Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 676,

Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 689, 990, Dockets 81-7640, 81-7660.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

September 30, 1982

Argued March 10, 1982.

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Paul E. Knag, Stamford, Conn. (Mark E. Fuhrmann, Cummings & Lockwood, Stamford, Conn., on the brief), for plaintiff-appellee.

Norman Zolot, Hamden, Conn., for defendants-appellants Ilsley and Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 676.

Christina G. Dunnell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Hartford, Conn. (Carl R. Ajello, Atty. Gen., Bernard F. McGovern, Jr., Robert E. Walsh, Asst. Atty. Gen., Hartford, Conn., on the brief), for defendants-appellants Waller and Arcudi.

Before NEWMAN and CARDAMONE, Circuit Judges, and BURNS, District Judge. [*]

CARDAMONE, Circuit Judge:

We are called upon to determine whether state law may require an employer to provide health and life insurance coverage for a former employee now receiving workers' compensation due to a job related injury. Section 31-51h of the General Statutes of Connecticut 1 set forth in the margin so

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provides. In a suit brought by an employer seeking a declaratory judgment, the district court granted the employer summary judgment and held that the Connecticut statute "relates to" employee benefit plans and is therefore preempted by the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (ERISA). For the reasons which follow, we affirm.

I

This action was instituted by plaintiff Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation (Stone & Webster), a company engaged in the design and construction of a nuclear power facility in Waterford, Connecticut. The defendants-appellants are: David B. Ilsley, a former employee of Stone & Webster; Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 676 (Union), the labor organization representing Ilsley which had a collective bargaining agreement with Stone & Webster and whose appeal is jointed with that of appellant Ilsley; Robin W. Waller, a Connecticut Workers Compensation Commissioner, and John A. Arcudi, Chairman of the Board of Compensation Commissioners of the State of Connecticut-both of whom appeal on behalf of the State of Connecticut. The National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Welfare Fund (Fund) is a national employee welfare fund to which Stone & Webster makes contributions on behalf of its employees pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. The Fund was a defendant below, but did not appeal. International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America filed an amicus curiae brief in support of defendants-appellants.

II

Familiarity with the undisputed facts fully set forth in the district court's opinion is assumed. See Stone & Webster Engineering Corp. v. Ilsley, 518 F.Supp. 1297 (D.Conn.1981). We recite only those facts necessary to resolve the issue before us on appeal.

In 1979 Stone & Webster, a Massachusetts corporation, employed defendant David Ilsley as a sprinkler fitter at its Waterford project. He commenced work on January 9, 1979 and was injured in the course of his employment on January 30, 1979. Ilsley has not been able to return to work since that time. Stone & Webster complied with the Connecticut Workers Compensation Law by insuring its obligations through Aetna Casualty and Surety Company. Neither plaintiff nor its insurer contested Stone & Webster's liability to Ilsley for workers' compensation under the Workers Compensation Act, section 31-275 et seq. of the General Statutes of Connecticut. In fact, Aetna entered into a voluntary agreement to pay compensation due under that act.

Stone & Webster is a party to a collective bargaining agreement with the Union which requires the corporation to pay into the Fund 75 cents per hour for all hours worked by each employee. The Fund provides eligible employees and their dependents coverage for medical, surgical and life insurance benefits. During the period of Ilsley's employment, Stone & Webster made the contributions required by the collective bargaining agreement. However, it ceased doing so from the date of Ilsley's disabling injury.

In his claim to the Workers Compensation Commissioner Ilsley alleged that Stone & Webster violated the Connecticut statute by not making contributions to the Fund while he was incapacitated with a compensable injury. On July 18, 1980, appellant Waller issued a "Finding and Award" requiring Stone & Webster, in accordance with Conn.Gen.Stat. § 31-51h, to continue its contributions to the Fund on behalf of Ilsley so long as he is eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits. Stone & Webster appealed this decision to the Appellate Division of the Workers Compensation Commission (which appeal has not been decided)

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and instituted the present action in the district court to enjoin defendants from enforcing section 31-51h and the Finding and Award. 2

In Stone & Webster's instant action jurisdiction was claimed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 ("arising under" jurisdiction) and 1337 (jurisdiction to regulate commerce and anti-trust) and 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(1) (jurisdictional grant under ERISA); injunctive relief was sought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2202 and Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The district court granted appellants' motion to stay execution of its judgment pending this appeal.

III

We must first consider the State of Connecticut's claim that only participants, beneficiaries or fiduciaries are empowered to institute an action for civil enforcement of ERISA in district court. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(1) (1976). It argues that as an employer Stone & Webster had no standing under the statute to institute this action. Plaintiff responds that, even in a case where the preemptive federal law provides it with no right to relief, the doctrine of preemption nevertheless provides "arising under" jurisdiction. The district court...

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