United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
KENNETH H. MILLER, Plaintiff,
RETIREMENT PROGRAM PLAN FOR EMPLOYEES OF CONSOLIDATED NUCLEAR SECURITY, LLC, Defendant.
L. COLLIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case arose as a result of a dispute over when Plaintiff's
pension benefits began to accrue under the Retirement Program
Plan for Employees of Consolidated Nuclear Security
(“the Plan”). On August 26, 2019, the Court of
Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed this Court's
interpretation of the Plan and remanded the case for
proceedings consistent with its opinion. (Doc. 31.) Before
the mandate issued, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his
complaint to raise a new claim against Defendant Retirement
Program Plan for Employees of Consolidated Nuclear Security,
LLC (“Defendant”) and add a new defendant. (Doc.
32.) Defendant opposed Plaintiff's motion (Doc. 36) and
moved for an entry of judgment pursuant to the mandate (Doc.
35). For the reasons outlined below, the Court
DENIES Plaintiff's motion to amend (Doc.
32) and GRANTS Defendant's motion for an
entry of judgment (Doc. 35).
December 6, 2004, Plaintiff began working for Babcock &
Wilcox Technical Services, Y-12, LLC (“BWXT”),
the prime contractor for Y-12, a United States Department of
Energy nuclear weapons manufacturing facility. (Doc. 1.) In
2005, Plaintiff received a letter from BWXT informing him
that employees could be given credit “for purposes of
vesting and eligibility to participate in the pension and
401(k) savings plans” for prior services performed as
“leased employees, ” which for Plaintiff meant
his time working for CDI Corporation, a subcontractor for one
of the Y-12 prime contractors. (Doc. 15-1 at 57.) As a
result, Plaintiff's “credited service date”
was adjusted to November 21, 1992, his hire date with the
October 2016, Plaintiff submitted a claim for pension
benefits based on his 1992 hire date. (Doc. 1.) The Plan
denied the claim in November 2016 and denied Plaintiff's
two subsequent appeals in February and July 2017, explaining
that Plaintiff's pension benefits only began to accrue
when he started working for BWXT. (Id.) Plaintiff
then filed this lawsuit on December 1, 2017, contending
Defendant wrongfully denied his claim for benefits.
(Id.) On November 13, 2018, the Court granted
Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative
record against Defendant, ordering Defendant to use November
21, 1992, when calculating Plaintiff's pension benefits.
(Doc. 22.) Defendant appealed and the Court of Appeals
reversed this Court's decision. (Doc. 31.)
Court of Appeals explained that the term “Credited
Service” has two different meanings within the plan:
“one meaning applied for the purpose of calculating the
amount of an employee's pension; the other applied to
determine whether the employee had a ‘vested' right
to benefits.” (Id.) The first meaning of
“Credited Service” is defined as the
“Employee's Company Service Credit, ” which
is “the service used to determine the amount
of a Participant's Accrued Benefit for benefit
accrual purposes[.]” (Id. at 3 (emphasis in
original).) “Company Service Credit” includes
only the time after an employee “first performs an Hour
of Service for a Participating Employer, ” thereby
excluding Plaintiff's time working for the subcontractor.
(Id.) The second meaning for “Credited
Service” includes service as a leased employee, but
“for participation and vesting purposes” only.
(Id. at 4.) As a result, Plaintiff's company
service credit, which is used to determine pension benefits,
began on December 6, 2004, not November 21, 1992.
(Id.) Thus, the Plan's terms supported the Plan
Administrator's decision to deny Plaintiff's claim.
(Id. at 5.) The Court's judgment was reversed
and remanded. (Id.) The mandate issued September 19,
2019. (Doc. 34.)
the mandate issued, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his
complaint to add a new claim against Defendant and add
Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (“CNS”), the
prime contractor for Y-12 and “plan sponsor” as
of 2014, as a defendant. (Doc. 32.) Plaintiff contends
Defendant and CNS agreed Plaintiff's general
“Credited Service Date” was November 21, 1992,
until the case was appealed. (Doc. 33.) Plaintiff argues
Defendant and CNS then “conceded only that
[Plaintiff's] Credited Service began in 1992 for purposes
of vesting.” (Id.) Plaintiff explains that as
a result of this shift, he “now has a colorable claim
for breach of fiduciary duty based on Defendants'
misrepresentations about his credited service date and,
therefore, his pension benefits.” (Id.)
opposes Plaintiff's motion and has filed a motion for an
entry of judgment. (Docs. 35, 36.) Defendant contends the
Court should deny Plaintiff's motion to amend because (1)
it cannot be reconciled with the Sixth Circuit's mandate;
(2) a Rule 15(b) motion cannot be filed after a judgment is
entered and his motion does not satisfy Rules 59 or 60; and
(3) even if Rule 15(b) could apply, the amendment was unduly
delayed and would result in significant prejudice to
Defendant. (Doc. 36.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Motion to Amend
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), a party may amend
its pleading with the court's leave, which “[t]he
court should freely give . . . when justice so
requires.” The district court's discretion in
considering motions to amend is “limited by
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)'s liberal policy of permitting
amendments to ensure the determination of claims on their
merits.” Gen. Elec. Co. v. Sargent &
Lundy, 916 F.2d 1119, 1130 (6th Cir. 1990) (quoting
Marks v. Shell Oil Co., 830 F.2d 68, 69 (6th Cir.
1987)). The Court may consider “undue delay in filing,
lack of notice to the opposing party, bad faith by the moving
party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous
amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and
futility of amendment . . . ” in determining whether to
grant the motion to amend. Hageman v. Signal L.P. Gas,
Inc., 486 F.2d 479, 484 (6th Cir. 1973) (citing
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).
Motion for Entry of Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 58 requires that “[e]very
judgment and amended judgment must be set out in a separate
document . . . .” A party may “request that
judgment be set out in a separate document.”
Court will first address the effect of the Sixth
Circuit's mandate before discussing whether Plaintiff can
amend his complaint to add a claim against Defendant and add
a new defendant.