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Miller v. Retirement Program Plan for Employees of Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

November 8, 2019

KENNETH H. MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
RETIREMENT PROGRAM PLAN FOR EMPLOYEES OF CONSOLIDATED NUCLEAR SECURITY, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          CURTIS L. COLLIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This 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).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On 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 subcontractor. (Id.)

         In 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.)

         The 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.)

         Before 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.)

         Defendant 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.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Motion to Amend

         Under 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)).

         B. Motion for Entry of Judgment

         Federal 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 58(a).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The 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.

         A. ...


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