United Steel v. Kelsey-Hayes Co., No. 13-1717 (6th Cir. 2015)

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Justia Opinion Summary

When the plant closed, plaintiffs retired under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that provided that the employer would continue health insurance and that coverage an employee had at the time of retirement or termination at age 65 or older (other than discharge for cause) “shall be continued thereafter provided that suitable arrangements for such continuation[] can be made… In the event… benefits … [are] not practicable … the Company in agreement with the Union will provide new benefits and/or coverages as closely related as possible and of equivalent value." In 2011 TRW (employer’s successor) stated that it would discontinue group health care coverage beginning in 2012, but would be providing “Health Reimbursement Accounts” (HRAs) and would make a one-time contribution of $15,000 for each eligible retiree and eligible spouse in 2012 and, in 2013, would provide a $4,800 credit to the HRAs for each eligible party. TRW did not commit to funding beyond 2013. Plaintiffs sued, claiming that the change violated the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001. The court entered summary judgment, ruling that the CBAs established a commitment to lifetime health care benefits. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, but subsequently vacated and remanded for reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in M & G Polymers.

This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on April 22, 2014.

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RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION Pursuant to Sixth Circuit I.O.P. 32.1(b) File Name: 15a0168p.06 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT _________________ UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING ENERGY, ALLIED INDUSTRIAL AND SERVICE WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, AFLCIO-CLC; RONALD D. STRAIT; DANNY O. STEVENS, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. KELSEY-HAYES COMPANY; TRW AUTOMOTIVE, INC.; TRW AUTOMOTIVE HOLDINGS CORPORATION, Defendants-Appellants. No. 13-1717 > Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Flint No. 4:11-cv-15497—Gershwin A. Drain, District Judge. Filed: July 28, 2015 Before: MERRITT, SUTTON, and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges. _________________ ORDER _________________ GRIFFIN, Circuit Judge. On May 6, 2014, defendants filed a petition for panel rehearing, as well as a motion to stay consideration of the petition for panel rehearing, pending the Supreme Court’s decision in M & G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, Supreme Court No. 131010. On May 19, 2014, the majority of this panel granted appellant’s motion to stay consideration of the petition for rehearing. On January 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in M & G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, 135 S. Ct. 926 (2015), which overruled this court’s decision in UAW v. Yard-Man, Inc., 716 F.2d 1476 (6th Cir. 1983). 1 No. 13-1717 United Steel, Paper, Forestry, et al. v. Kelsey-Hayes Co., et al. Page 2 We now GRANT appellant’s motion for panel rehearing and REMAND the case to the district court for reconsideration, and further proceedings if necessary, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Tackett. The prior opinion of this panel, United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing Energy, Allied Industries and Service Workers International Union v. Kelsey-Hayes Co., 750 F.3d 546 (6th Cir. 2014), is accordingly VACATED. MERRITT, Circuit Judge, dissenting. I do not agree that the court should remand this case to the district court. I would conclude this case by deciding that the Kelsey-Hayes employees who are retired are entitled to vested health care benefits under the collective bargaining agreements.