Trs. of Local 138 Pension Trust Fund v. F.W. Honerkamp Co. Inc., No. 11-1322 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The Fund is a multiemployer defined-benefit pension plan. Honerkamp, a New York employer, contributed to the Fund pursuant to collective bargaining agreements with its employees. In 2008, the trustees announced that the Fund was in critical status as defined by the Pension Protection Act of 1996, 29 U.S.C. 1085(b)(2) and began drafting a rehabilitation plan. Because the rehabilitation plan would figure prominently in negotiations between Honerkamp and the union, the parties extended existing agreements. The final rehabilitation plan set forth new schedules of reduced benefits and increased contributions. According to the plan, the Fund was unlikely to emerge from critical status within the statutory 10-year rehabilitation period because employer contribution rates required for that result would exceed amounts that employers would have had to pay to withdraw from the Fund. The trustees therefore designed schedules “to impose approximately the same burden actuarially on employers that a withdrawal from the [Fund] would produce.” Following negotiations, Honerkamp withdrew from the Fund. The trustees sued, arguing that the PPA prevented Honerkamp from withdrawing and required the company to make certain ongoing pension contributions pursuant to the rehabilitation plan. The district court granted summary judgment to Honerkamp. The Second Circuit affirmed.