Tompkins v. Cent. Laborers' Pension Fund, No. 12-1995 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Tompkins began working in 1978 and was a participant in the Fund, a multi-employer pension fund established and administered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001. In 1999, Tompkins was granted a disability pension based on chronic asthmatic bronchitis, which he attributed to working with cement dust for 22 years. Tompkins’s application included agreement to be bound by all the Fund’s rules and regulations, although he did not inquire about those rules or make any effort to find out what they were. Upon receiving his first monthly payment of $2,115.43, he was required to sign a Retirement Declaration that provided notice of disqualifying employment for plan participants receiving retirement pensions but did not include the rules and regulations specific to disability pensioners. In 2007, the Fund suspended his disability pension, claiming that his full-time employment in 2005 and 2006 indicated that he no longer met the definition of “total and permanent disability.” The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Fund. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Although the Fund acknowledged ambiguity, it based its decision on a reasonable interpretation.