United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
in these consolidated cases are participants and
beneficiaries under the Robert Bosch Fuel Systems LLC
Hourly-Rated Employees' Pension Plan (the Bosch Plan).
Plaintiffs have sued the Bosch Plan and Defendant Robert
Bosch Fuel Systems, LLC (Bosch), the Bosch Plan sponsor and
administrator, pursuant to Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et
seq., alleging that they are entitled to enhanced early
retirement pension benefits under the Bosch Plan.
their original complaints, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants
are equitably estopped from denying them an enhanced early
retirement benefit under the Bosch Plan. Defendants moved for
dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). In response, Plaintiffs amended their complaints
to, among other things, add a second claim for other
equitable relief. Defendants have again moved to dismiss
Plaintiffs' complaints pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). The
motions are fully briefed and ready for decision.
following reasons, the Court will grant Defendants'
motions and dismiss Plaintiffs' first amended complaints.
Wade Chilton, Cynthia K. Doubblestien, Tamara L. Baker, Dawn
Hess, Charles R. Buxton, Max Guy, and Stephen Tenharmsel, are
former employees of Bosch, and all of them retired from a
General Motors-affiliated company on August 1, 2009.
Plaintiffs are all participants in the Bosch Plan, which is
administered by Bosch and governed by ERISA. It is undisputed
that Plaintiffs are entitled to regular pension benefits
under the Bosch Plan (ECF No. 21 at PageID.278); however,
Plaintiffs seek enhanced early retirement benefits under the
Bosch Plan. Because Plaintiffs' factual allegations in
their respective first amended complaints are materially the
same, the Court recites Plaintiff Chilton's allegations
as representative of all Plaintiffs' allegations.
worked for GM between 1977 and 1988, then worked for Diesel
Technology Company (DTC) and its successor, Bosch, until
2003. (ECF No. 11 at PageID.141.) Chilton left Bosch in
October 2003 and returned to a GM-affiliated company, where
he remained until he retired on August 1, 2009.
(Id.) During Chilton's employment with DTC,
Bosch assumed DTC's Hourly-Rate Employees' Pension
Plan and subsequently renamed it the Bosch Plan.
(Id. at PageID.142.) Certain benefits under the
Bosch Plan were coordinated with benefits under GM's
Hourly-Rated Employees' Pension Plan (GM Plan).
2009, Bosch transferred benefits liability and associated
assets for certain Bosch employees to the GM Plan.
(Id.) At the same time, GM offered an early
retirement program to certain of its employees and former
employees in the form of an enhanced early retirement
benefit, to be effective August 1, 2009. Bosch also offered
enhanced early retirement pension benefits to Chilton and
other participants in the Bosch Plan. (Id.)
elected to retire from GM on August 1, 2009, and receive
enhanced early retirement benefits under the Bosch Plan. In
connection with his retirement, Bosch and Chilton executed
various documents stating that Chilton had applied for
retirement benefits to commence August 1, 2009, that such
benefits were "[e]arly retirement at employee option
with 30 or more years of combined Bosch (DTC)/GM/Delphi
credited service, " and that Chilton would receive
monthly benefit payments of $1, 227.86 until age 62 and one
month, or until he began receiving Social Security Disability
benefits, and $636.73 per month thereafter. (Id. at
PageID. 142-43; ECF Nos. 11 -2- 11-6.) Chilton alleges that
Bosch never stated that the enhanced early retirement benefit
was subject to reduction by Bosch at a later time, that the
benefit was contingent upon Bosch's relationship with GM,
or that Bosch might cease paying the benefit to him
altogether. (ECF No. 11 atPageID.144.)
began paying Chilton the stated monthly benefit as of August
1, 2009, and continued the payments for over three years,
until November 2012, when Bosch sent Chilton a letter stating
that he was no longer eligible for a "coordinated"
pension benefit and that his monthly benefit was recalculated
as a deferred vested participant. (Id. at PageID.
144-45; ECF No. 11-8.) Bosch also informed Chilton that he
owed Bosch $50, 342.46 for over payments the Bosch Plan had
made to him. Bosch ceased making monthly payments to Chilton
and apparently is applying some portion of the monthly
payment to which Chilton would otherwise be entitled as
repayment of the alleged overpayment. (ECF No. 11 at PageID.
filed an appeal of the termination of his monthly payments
with Bosch, but Bosch denied the appeal. Chilton then filed
the instant action.
to the Bosch Plan, a participant may be entitled to an
enhanced early retirement benefit ...