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Kelly v. Honeywell International, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 25, 2017

DAVID KELLY, RICHARD NORKO, ANNETTE DOBBS, PETER DELLOLIO, Plaintiffs,
v.
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL, INC. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [DKT. 70]

          Hon. Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs filed the instant motion for reconsideration upon the Court entering judgment in favor of Defendant with respect to “Subclass B, ” retirees who retired after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and its incorporated documents (“Agreements”) as well as their surviving spouses. The Court previously granted summary judgment in favor of Subclass A, retirees who retired before the Agreements' expiration as well as their surviving spouses. The Court assumes the parties' familiarity with the facts. For the following reasons, the Plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         On August 12, 2016, the parties submitted to the Court for certification the following proposed class:

all former Stratford plant production and maintenance and office and clerical employees (those represented by UAW Locals 376 and 1010) who retired from Honeywell or AlliedSignal since October 28, 1994 (the date the retiree obligations moved to Textron to AlliedSignal) and surviving spouses who are receiving retirement health insurance benefits from Honeywell or are otherwise eligible to receive coverage.

[Dkt. 37 (Joint Proposed Class), ¶ 1 (jointly modifying Plaintiffs' Mot. Certify Class)]. During a telephonic conference on November 7, 2016, the Court inquired as to whether the class should be divided into two subclasses: retirees who retired before the Agreements' expiration and their surviving spouses, and retirees who retired after the Agreements' expiration and their surviving spouses. [Dkt. 81 (Tel. Conf. Tr.), at 9:4-16]. Defense counsel averred that “it [did] not matter whether they retired during that period, ” id. at 10:8-23, and accordingly and upon consent of both parties the Court granted the proposed class, [Dkt. 51 (Vacated Order)].

         After reviewing the parties' summary judgment briefing and evidence, the Court concluded that despite the parties' contention about the irrelevance of the date of retirement, lifetime medical coverage benefits vested only for retirees who retired prior to the expiration of the Agreements. [Dkt. 58 (Decision), at 33-34]. The Court determined the language in the Agreements to be ambiguous with respect to retirees who retired after the expiration of the Agreements, and thereafter held a hearing on February 27, 2017, to address the limited issue of whether these particular Plaintiffs also enjoyed vested lifetime medical coverage benefits. The Court reviewed evidence and considered the hearing testimony, making the determination that such rights were not vested and vacating the certification of the initial class. [Dkt. 64 (Ruling and Order), at 6-7]. Presently there exist two subclasses: (A) retirees who retired before the expiration of the Agreements and their surviving spouses; and (B) retirees who retired after the expiration of the Agreements and their surviving spouses.[1]

         Relevant to this issue is the Local 1010 UAW Decision & Effects Agreement (“Summary”), a document summarizing the results from the 1994 negotiation process between Textron and the Union for the union members to review prior to ratification. [See Dkt. 24-11 (Summ. for Ratification)]. Former Union President and current President of the Local 1010 Retiree Chapter, David Kelly, testified during the hearing that he created the Summary for the union members, circulated it to Textron's Vice President of Labor Relations and Vice President of Human Resources, and watched these individuals read the Summary in front of him. [See Dkt. 72 (Evid. Hr'g Tr.), at 68:22-70:11]. Importantly, he also “asked [the Vice Presidents] to verify its accuracy, that it was okay with - that it accurately reflected what was negotiated.” Id. at 69:22-70:3 (emphasis added). The Summary's introductory paragraph states, “The following benefits will be provided to all Local 1010 employees and retirees who are laid-off or retire during this agreement.” [Dkt. 24-11, at 1]. The Court relied upon this clear language and Mr. Kelly's testimony in concluding there was no triable issue of fact regarding the parties' intentions at the time the contract took effect and accordingly concluded that section 2(b) of the Effects Bargaining Agreement (“EBA”) did not confer vested lifetime medical coverage benefits to Subclass B because they retired or were laid off after and not during the Agreements. [Dkt. 64 (Ruling and Order)].

         Both parties have since appealed. Defendant challenges the entirety of the final judgment, [Dkt. 68 (Def.'s Notice Appeal)], and Plaintiffs challenge the final judgment only with respect to Subclass B, [Dkt. 75 (Pls.' Notice Appeal)]. Plaintiffs also filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration. [Dkt. 70-1 (Mot. Recons.)]. The Second Circuit has stayed the appeal pending resolution of this motion pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4). See Kelly v. Honeywell Int'l Inc., appeals docketed, 16-675 (2d Cir. Mar. 7, 2017), 17-803 (2d Cir. Mar. 21, 2017).

         Plaintiffs principally argue in the Motion for Reconsideration that Kelly carelessly drafted the Summary “in haste, ” he intended to write “under” instead of “during, ” and that such a mistake was not authorized by anyone on the UAW side of the bargaining table. [Dkt. 70-1, at 2]. As supporting evidence, Plaintiffs filed Kelly's declaration in which he states after the Agreements expired, “in the summer and fall of 1997, HR Director Brian McMenamin told the Local 1010 bargaining committee, me included, that employees would not lose their lifetime retiree medical benefits if they worked beyond the expiration date. He also asked me on at least two occasions to help persuade senior employees to defer retirement beyond contract expiration.” [Dkt. 70-2 (Pls.' Ex. 1, Kelly Decl.), ¶ 7]. Plaintiffs also filed a document titled “Hot News Local 1010: Voluntary Layoffs, ” dated May 30, 1995. [See Dkt. 70-3 (Pls.' Ex. 2, Hot News)]. The article explains that since November 1994, a total of 136 Local 1010 employees elected to take voluntary layoffs and 117 took immediate early retirement following layoffs. Id. Laid off employees who retired received a severance bonus of $27, 700 “in addition to the employee's pension and medical benefits which are guaranteed for life by the AlliedSignal Corporation under the terms of our Agreement.” Id. (emphasis added). Plaintiffs aver that this article is an example demonstrating Kelly “never made this misstatement again.” [Dkt. 70-1, at 2].

         II. Legal Standard

         The District Court of Connecticut Local Rule 7(c) permits a Motion for Reconsideration to be filed within seven days of the filing of a decision. A motion for reconsideration filed under Local Rule 7(c) is equivalent as a practical matter to a motion for amendment of judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). See City of Hartford v. Chase, 942 F.2d 130, 133 (2d Cir. 1991). Rule 59(e) motions filed within 28 days of the judgment suspend the finality of judgment. See Weyant v. Okst, 198 F.3d 311, 314-15 (2d Cir. 1999) (“The timely filing of a postjudgment motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. . . 59 automatically ‘affect[s] the finality of the judgment, ' Fed.R.Civ.P. 59 Advisory Committee Note (1995), because such a motion seeks to alter the judgment or reverse decisions embodied in it.”); Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 59.52[1] (3d ed. 2016).

         In the Second Circuit, the standard for granting a motion for reconsideration “is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked-matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995); see D. Conn. L. R. 7(c) (requiring the movant to file along with the motion for reconsideration “a memorandum setting forth concisely the controlling decisions or data the movant believes the Court overlooked”). There are three grounds for granting a motion for reconsideration: (1) “intervening change of controlling law”; (2) “the availability of new evidence”; or (3) a “need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Virgin Atl. Airways Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992) (quoting 18 C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Fed. Practice & Procedure, § 4478 at 790). If the Court “overlooked controlling decisions or factual matters that were put before it on the underlying motion, ” reconsideration is appropriate. Eisemann v. ...


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