Summary of the Lawsuit
This lawsuit alleges that the Wyeth Special Transaction Severance Plan failed to provide and pay benefits under the terms of the Plan to employees of Wyeth who provided services to Benchmark Federal Credit Union (“Benchmark”), when their employment was involuntary terminated on March 31, 2010 by Pfizer, Inc. (“Pfizer”), and they became employees of Benchmark.
Summary of the Claims
Under the terms of the Severance Plan, any eligible participant who experienced an involuntary termination of employment was eligible for certain severance benefits, provided that their employment was not transferred to a “successor company of the Company.” Plaintiffs allege that following the involuntary termination of their employment by Pfizer, Plaintiffs and other Wyeth employees who provided services to Benchmark had their employment terminated and are entitled to benefits even though they were hired by Benchmark, because Benchmark was not a “successor company of the Company” (i.e. Wyeth).
Plaintiffs allege that the Administrative Committee abused its discretion in denying their claim for severance benefits by failing to determine eligibility for benefits in accordance with the provisions of the Severance Plan and by failing to construe in good faith the terms of the Severance Plan. Defendants maintain that Plaintiffs were not entitled to severance benefits because they were not terminated, but instead were transferred to Benchmark, a successor employer. Plaintiffs allege that the Severance Plan does not exclude from eligibility employees who are transferred to a “successor employer” but instead excludes employees who are transferred to a “successor company of the Company” and that Benchmark is not a “successor company” to Pfizer.
This lawsuit is brought on behalf of the following persons:
Participants in the [Wyeth Special Transaction] Severance Plan, who, as employees of the Company (Wyeth, and subsequently Pfizer), provided services to the Benchmark Federal Credit Union, experienced an Involuntary Termination of Employment, were hired by Benchmark Federal Credit Union and not provided with Change in Control Severance Benefits under the Severance Plan.
Status of the Litigation
Plaintiffs filed their complaint on July 1, 2011. Defendants filed their answer on October 15, 2011. Plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification on September 29, 2011. After oral arguments on January 30, 2012, the Court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification on March 1, 2013, Plaintiffs sought permission to appeal the denial of class certification to the Third Circuit, but that request was denied on May 28th, 2013.
Plaintiffs and Defendants both filed motions for summary judgment on July 22nd, 2013 and oral argument on the motions for Summary Judgment was held on January 8, 2014. On November 18, 2014, the District Court entered an Order granting Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record, and denying Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal on December 15, 2014. Plaintiffs filed an appeal with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, appealing both the denial of class certification and the denial of their Motion for Summary Judgment. The appeal has been fully briefed, and is awaiting a date for Oral Argument before the Third Circuit Court.