Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Chilton v. Robert Bosch Fuel Systems, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

June 9, 2017

WADE CHILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT BOSCH FUEL SYSTEMS, LLC, and ROBERT BOSCH FUEL SYSTEMS, LLC HOURLY-RATED EMPLOYEES PENSION PLAN, Defendants.

          OPINION

          GORDON J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs 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.

         In 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.

         For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendants' motions and dismiss Plaintiffs' first amended complaints.

         I. background

         Plaintiffs, 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.

         Chilton 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).

         In 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.)

         Chilton 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.)

         Bosch 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. 145.)

         Chilton filed an appeal of the termination of his monthly payments with Bosch, but Bosch denied the appeal. Chilton then filed the instant action.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Equitable Estoppel

         Pursuant to the Bosch Plan, a participant may be entitled to an enhanced early retirement benefit ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.