United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS RE:
DKT. NO. 117
J. DAVILA United States District Judge
latest iteration of this action under the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), Plaintiff
Charles Guenther (“Plaintiff”) alleges in a
Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) that Defendants
Lockheed Martin Corporation (“Lockheed”) and
Lockheed Martin Corporation Retirement Plan for Certain
Salaried Employees (collectively, “Defendants”)
breached a fiduciary duty to make accurate and correct
representations concerning his ability to
“bridge” prior employment service credit with
future service credit.
jurisdiction arises pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and
1132(e). Presently before the court is Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss the SAC as time-barred (Dkt. No. 117), which
Plaintiff opposes. This matter is suitable for decision
without oral argument, and the hearing scheduled for March
16, 2017, will be vacated. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b).
Defendant's position on the statute of limitations
represents one possible resolution of this case in its
current form, it ultimately fails to achieve dismissal under
the Rule 12(b)(6) standard. Thus, Defendants' motion will
be denied for the reasons explained below.
Current Factual Allegations
alleges he had two prior periods of employment with Lockheed,
from 1983 to 1991 and from 1997 to 2001. SAC, at ¶ 4.
Before he was rehired in 1997, Plaintiff informed Lockheed
that “his top priority was bridging his service for
purposes of pension eligibility.” Id.
2006, Plaintiff was contacted by Lockheed to resume another
period of employment at the company. Id. at ¶
5. Plaintiff alleges that, as before, one of his “key
conditions” to returning was that “his prior
service be bridged so that he could receive the full benefit
of the company's defined benefit retirement plan in which
he had already accumulated many years of service.
Id. at ¶ 6. Lockheed recruiters indicated that
it was possible for Plaintiff to bridge service, but that he
would need to submit a form which was provided to him.
Id. According to Plaintiff, the form stated:
“If your request is approved, the date you submit this
application is the effective date that your current period of
service will bridge with your prior service. Id. at
alleges he submitted the form on July 17, 2006, in the manner
instructed. Id. Lockheed responded in writing on
July 25, 2016, stating: “Since you were vested in a
pension benefit provided by the Lockheed Martin Corporation
Retirement Plan for Certain Salaried Employees, your prior
period of Lockheed/Lockheed Martin service will be bridged
with your proposed current Lockheed Martin service.”
Id. at ¶ 8, Ex. A. Based on Lockheed's
written and oral representations and from the treatment of
his 1997 re-hire, Plaintiff alleges he “reasonably
concluded . . . that he would continue in the Lockheed Martin
Corporation Retirement Plan for Certain Salaried
Employees.” Id. at ¶ 9. He states that no
other plan was brought to his attention. Id.
rejoined Lockheed on September 11, 2006. Id. at
¶ 11. In November, 2006, he received another letter from
Lockheed, this time stating the following, in pertinent part:
“It should be noted that because you are not currently
participating in a Lockheed Martin defined benefit pension
plan, you are not entitled to a pension benefit from Lockheed
Martin for your current period of service.”
Id. at ¶ 12, Ex. B. Plaintiff attempted to
receive clarification of this statement in various ways
between 2006 and 2010 but was unsuccessful. Id. at
alleges he submitted a claim for benefits to the Plan on
April 20, 2012, which the Plan denied on June 6, 2012.
Id. at ¶ 26. Plaintiff appealed from the
decision, which was also denied. Id. at ¶ 30.
initiated this action in Santa Clara County Superior Court on
November 8, 2010, and Defendants removed it to this court on
January 26, 2011. Plaintiff's original and First Amended
Complaints asserted two causes of action, one under ERISA (29
U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B)), and one for breach of contract.
The court dismissed the breach of contract claim with
prejudice, but stayed the remainder of the case so that
Plaintiff could exhaust an administrative appeal. Dkt. No.
stay was extinguished on November 30, 2012 (Dkt. No. 43), and
Defendants filed motions for summary judgment and
adjudication. The court granted both motions, determining
that Defendants' decision to deny Plaintiff
“bridging” benefits was not an abuse of