United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Wheeling
STANLEY J. GOLDEN, Plaintiff,
DONALD BARNETT and WILLIAM H. HOWE, Trustees of the UMWA 1985 Retired Construction Workers Pension Plan and 1978 Retired Construction Workers Benefit Trust, Defendants. DONALD BARNETT and WILLIAM H. HOWE, Trustees of the UMWA 1985 Retired Construction Workers Pension Plan and 1978 Retired Construction Workers Benefit Trust, Counterclaim Plaintiffs,
STANLEY J. GOLDEN, Counterclaim Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANTS'/ COUNTERCLAIM
PLAINTIFFS' CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
PRESTON BAILEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before this Court is Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. 18], filed December 19, 2017, and
Defendants'/Counterclaim Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. 23], filed March 5, 2018. Having been
fully briefed, this matter is now ripe for decision. For the
reasons set forth below, this Court GRANTS IN
PART Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment
[Doc. 18] and DENIES
Defendants'/Counterclaim Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. 23]. Plaintiff's
request for an award of attorneys' fees and costs is
DENIED. The remainder of plaintiff's
Motion is GRANTED.
Stanley J. Golden, brings this action under the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”),
29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., against defendants
and counterclaim plaintiffs, Donald Barnett and William H.
Howe, in their capacities as trustees of the UMWA 1985
Construction Workers Pension Plan (incorrectly named the 1985
Retired Construction Workers Pension Plan in the Complaint)
and the 1978 Retired Construction Workers Benefit Trust
(collectively, the “Funds”).
began working for Allegheny Belting, Inc.
(“Allegheny”), in 1980 as a construction worker
pursuant to a Collective Bargaining Agreement
(“CBA”) between the United Mine Workers of
America (“UMWA”) and the Association of
Bituminous Contractors. Allegheny was a participating
employer to the Funds. On April 10, 2015, plaintiff's job
at Allegheny was eliminated. Consequently, plaintiff applied
for and began receiving retirement benefits and retiree
health care benefits from the Funds.
later, plaintiff received a letter dated September 14, 2016,
which read, in pertinent part, as follows:
Dear Mr. Golden,
As you know, you currently receive a monthly pension benefit
from the UMWA 1985 Construction Workers Pension Plan
(“Plan”) based in part on your service with
Allegheny Belting (“Company”). We recently
discovered that you may have held an ownership, management or
operational position with Allegheny Belting during all or
some of the period during which your pension was earned. As
you may know, individuals who hold a management, ownership,
or operational position with a contributing employer are not
eligible to earn pension credit under the Plan. We are
writing to determine whether you held such a position with
Specifically, Article IV(C)(4) of the Plan provides,
“No credit for service shall be awarded a Participant
for any period in which such Participant was directly
connected with the ownership, operation, or management of a
construction employer.” We understand, for instance,
that you served as vice-president of the Company. If you
served as vice-president during the period when your pension
benefit was earned or functioned in some other ownership,
management or operational position, your benefit amount must
be adjusted. If you believe you did not hold a management,
ownership, or operational position with Allegheny while you
were receiving credit under the Plan, you must forward
documentation of this. . . .
[Doc. 1-8 at 2]. In response, plaintiff vehemently denied
ever serving in an ownership, management, or operational
position with Allegheny. In a letter dated October 28, 2016,
plaintiff stated as follows:
I did not hold an ownership, operational or managerial
position with Allegheny. I was not connected with the day to
day operations of the company. I did not set up the jobs, bid
for jobs, do the work schedules, or decide the wages. I was
not privy to the finances of the company, the tax records, or
the wages of the other employees. I was not given bonuses or
extra compensation that management might receive. Also, I
made no decisions on the hiring of employees, etc.
Additionally, I am not aware of any time when I was to have
been elected as an officer of the company, nor do I have
records to that effect.
[Id. at 12]. In an earlier letter, plaintiff
indicated he was given stock in Allegheny when it was
incorporated and that he continued to be a shareholder
[Id. at 3]. However, plaintiff stated in the October
28, 2016, letter that he “never received any written
documentation to that effect, ” that he did not have
“any proof of ownership, ” and that he
“never received any monetary gain of stock from the
company” [Id. at 12].
Funds' Coordinator then sent a letter to Richard Golden,
plaintiff's brother and President of Allegheny,
requesting information regarding plaintiff's position
with Allegheny [Id. at 14]. Richard Golden's
response stated as follows:
We are a family owned business started in 1979 by our parents
Stanley T Golden and Ann Golden. The [i]nitial 1000 shares of
stock were owned by them. In 1982[, ] Stanley T and Ann gave
150 shares of stock to each of their 3 children. Richard
T-150 shares, Stanley John [plaintiff]-150 shares[, ] and
Deborah A-150 shares. Stanley T and Ann retained 550 shares.
There was discussion of naming Stanley John [plaintiff] as a
vice president in late 1999[, ] however a change of heart by
Ann prevented anything from officially being ratified during
any of the meetings. She questioned his ability to make
financial and personnel decisions and he was never given
power or permission to handle either the workforce or
finances. He remained a crew leader as many of the other
employees (myself included) did during these many years. We
never employed over 25 people at one time and have averaged
in the low teens over the years[, ] which necessitates all
employees produce billable hours.
In September of 2005[, ] after the death of Stanley T and
with health concerns of her own[, ] Ann dispersed her stock
as follows: Richard T-additional 400 shares for a total of
550[, ] Stanley J [plaintiff] an additional 75 with a total
of 225 and Deborah A an additional 75 with a total of 225.
Enclosed [are] transfer minutes.
I hope this clears up any confusion and misinformation that
may have been understood by all parties involved. As minority
stockholders we were not privy to most of the meetings and
since the death of Ann last year there has been a tension in
the relationships between Stanley J [plaintiff] and his
siblings. As a company we take good care of our employees and
have gone beyond any contractual obligations to compensate
them including generous travel and meal expenses. There also
is a 401k that ALL employees share in equally but as for any
other profit or dividend sharing there was nothing given to
Stanley J [plaintiff] or the other siblings.
[Id. at 15].
enclosed minutes supported Richard Golden's statement
that in 1982 Stanley T. Golden gave 150 shares to each of his
three children, including plaintiff, and that he and Ann
Golden retained 550 shares [Id. at 19]. The June 1,
1982, Annual Meeting minutes also show that all five members
of the Golden family, including plaintiff, were elected as
“Directors” [Id.]. There were no minutes
enclosed that memorialized the transfer of stock as described
in September 2005. However, there were minutes enclosed from
July 20, 2005, that stated, in pertinent part, the following:
Order of Business-Transfer of Stock Owned by Ann Golden to
Richard Golden, Stanley J. Golden, and Deborah Riva.
Current Shareholders and Shares:
Stanley T & Ann Golden - 550 shares
Richard T Golden - 150 shares
Stanley J Golden - 150 ...