Lewis v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ____________________________________ ) K. WENDELL LEWIS, et al., ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) v. ) Civil Action No. 15-1328 (RBW) ) PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY ) CORPORATION, ) ) Defendant. ) ____________________________________) MEMORANDUM OPINION The plaintiffs, approximately 1,700 former Delta Air Lines, Inc. (“Delta”) pilots, initiated this action against the defendant, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “Corporation” or the “PBGC”), challenging the Corporation’s benefits determinations regarding the Delta Pilots Retirement Plan (the “Pilots Plan” or “Plan”) under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (the “ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1303(f) (2012). See First Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 1–14, 73–150. 1 Currently pending before the Court are the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary 1 The plaintiffs also assert a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, see Am. Compl. ¶¶ 63–72, and a claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701–06 (2012), see id. ¶¶ 151–56. The Court earlier denied the Corporation’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim for breach of fiduciary duty, but granted the Corporation’s motion to certify the issue for interlocutory appeal. See Lewis v. PBGC, No. 15-1328 (RBW), 2017 WL 7047932, at *1–4 (D.D.C. Jan. 23, 2017) (Walton, J.). Resolution of that issue is currently pending before the District of Columbia Circuit. See Lewis v. PBGC, No. 17-5068 (D.C. Cir. filed Apr. 12, 2017). As for the plaintiffs’ APA claim, the plaintiffs explain in their briefing that they only brought this claim “in the alternative, in case the Corporation was to argue . . . that the . . . APA . . . should govern their claims.” Plaintiffs’ Reply in Support of Their Motion for Summary Judgment and in Opposition to Defendant’s Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (“Pls.’ Reply”) at 42. Both parties agree, however, “that [the p]laintiffs’ claims should be governed by [the] ERISA.” Id.; see also Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s Memorandum in Support of Its Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and in Opposition to the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment (“Def.’s Mem.”) at 45 (claiming that the plaintiffs’ APA claim “is simply a restatement of their ERISA claims”). The Court therefore dismisses the plaintiffs’ APA claim as duplicative. See 5 U.S.C. § 704 (limiting judicial review of agency action pursuant to the APA to “final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court”); see also Davis v. PBGC, 864 F. Supp. 2d 148, 167 (D.D.C. 2012) (dismissing the plaintiffs’ APA claim at the summary judgment stage because the plaintiffs “concede[d] that . . . [the APA claim] was brought solely as a protective claim, in case the PBGC sought to argue that this case was not cognizable under [the] ERISA”), aff’d, 734 F.3d 1161 (D.C. Cir. 2013). Judgment (“Pls.’ Mot.”) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and Opposition to the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment (“Def.’s Mot.”). Upon careful consideration of the parties’ submissions, 2 the Court concludes for the reasons that follow that it must deny the ...

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