United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Robert E. Titus, Jr., Plaintiff,
Operating Engineers' Local 324 Pension Plan, Defendant.
ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
JUDGMENT ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD  AND DENYING
PLAINTIFF'S CROSS-MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD 
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
a case regarding the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001.
See Dkt. No. 1. On March 16, 2016, Plaintiff Robert
Titus, Jr. filed a Complaint against Defendant Operating
Engineers' Local 324 Pension Plan (“the Pension
Plan”) seeking remedies under ERISA. Id. In
his Complaint, Titus asserted three claims, asking that the
Court: (i) enjoin the suspension of his retirement benefits
and reform the Pension Plan under ERISA §§
203(a)(3)(B) and 502(a)(3); (ii) order the Defendant to
provide a full and fair review of his benefit claims under
ERISA §§ 502(a)(3) and 503; and (iii) both grant
retirement benefits he contends were improperly suspended and
require that the Plan clarify his right to benefits, pursuant
to ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B).
Court issued a Case Management Scheduling Order for Review of
ERISA Administrative Denial of Benefits on August 31, 2016,
and the Administrative Record was filed under seal pursuant
to Local Rule 5.3(a) on September 30, 2016. See Dkt.
Nos. 11, 12.
Defendant filed a Motion for Partial Judgment on the
Pleadings on October 31, 2016. See Dkt. No. 19. In
this motion, the Defendant sought judgment on Plaintiff's
claims I and II. Id. The Court granted
Defendant's motion and later denied Plaintiff's
Motion for Leave to Amend. See Dkt. Nos. 34, 40.
Accordingly, only Plaintiff's third claim remains for
before the Court are the parties' Cross-Motions for
Judgment on the Administrative Record. See Dkt. Nos.
41, 42. For the reasons that follow, the Court will
GRANT Defendant's Motion for Judgment on
the Administrative Record  and DENY
Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Judgment on the
Administrative Record .
joined the Operating Engineers Local 324 in August 1978, and
his employment primarily consisted of operating and
maintaining cranes. Dkt. No. 1, p. 3 (Pg. ID 3); Dkt. No. 45,
p. 5 (Pg. ID 1804). Through his employment, he became a
member of the Pension Plan, a multi-employer defined benefit
plan. Dkt. No. 1, pp. 1-3 (Pg. ID 1-3). The Pension Plan
provides a Service Pension for active participants who have
both reached the age of fifty-five and have at least thirty
years of credited service. Id. at 3 (Pg. ID 3).
February 2014, Titus became eligible to receive benefits
under the Pension Plan. Id. at p. 4 (Pg. ID 4). At
this time, he contemplated first retiring and then starting
his own sales and consulting company. Id. Titus
understood that the Plan imposed restrictions on
beneficiaries' post-retirement employment, and thus, he
sought to start a company as long as it did not impact his
retirement income. Id.
offers guidance related to restrictions on post-retirement
employment, where a retiree is receiving a pension. It
[a] right to an accrued benefit derived from employer
contributions shall not be treated as forfeitable solely
because the plan provides that the payment of benefits is
suspended for such period as the employee is employed,
subsequent to the commencement of payment of such benefits--.
(ii) in the case of a multiemployer plan, in the same
industry, in the same trade or craft, and the same geographic
area covered by the plan, as when such benefits commenced.
29 U.S.C. § 1053(a)(3)(B). In addition, ERISA contains a
provision related to a status determination and the
suspension of benefits.
Status determination. If a plan provides for benefits
suspension, the plan shall adopt a procedure, and so inform
employees, whereunder an employee may request, and the plan
administrator in a reasonable amount of time will render, a
determination of whether specific contemplated employment
will be section 203(a)(3)(B) service for purposes of plan
provisions concerning suspension of benefits. Requests for
status determinations may be considered in accordance with
the claims procedure adopted by the plan pursuant to section
503 of the Act and applicable regulations.
29 C.F.R. § 2530.203-3(b)(6).
became eligible to receive a pension in February 2014, Titus
requested a status determination regarding the work
contemplated and spoke with the Pension Plan Manager, Duane
Menter. Dkt. No. 1, p. 6 (Pg. ID 6). Menter summarized this
conversation in a letter dated March 28, 2014. Dkt. ...