prepare an acceptable business case scenario for presentation at the scheduled February 10, 1994 Board meeting; he stressed the importance of downsizing without causing further revenue erosion. (Id. at 3).
Some time between January 21, 1994, and January 25, 1994, defendants formed an intent to modify the Manual plan. (Singer Dep. at 73, 75). The actual decision to modify the Manual plan was made by Hedges. (Id. at 75). Prior to February 8, 1994, Singer prepared materials concerning possible changes in severance benefits for presentation to the operating committee. (Id. at 135-38). On February 8, 1994, GSC issued a memorandum and attachment to all GSC employees concerning their benefits. This release consisted of a reissuance of an existing list of benefits -- which list did not include any mention of severance pay -- with a statement that GSC could amend, modify or terminate any benefits -- whether listed or not listed -- at any time, within the discretion of the President and CEO (then Frank Jerd). (Plaintiffs' Exh. 34). Between February 16 and 21, Singer was provided with a plan for the February 22, 1994, layoffs so that he could run a cost analysis. (Singer Dep. at 168). On February 17, 1994, GSC announced the modified severance plan pursuant to which laid off employees would receive one week's pay for each full year of employment to a maximum of six weeks or $ 10,000, whichever was less. (Plaintiffs' Exh. 47).
According to defendants, on January 14, 1994, GSC laid off thirty-eight full-time employees from the engineering and manufacturing groups at Cherry Hill, converted two of those employees -- Michael Boyle and Patrick Countey -- to contractor status, and laid off one part-time temporary employee -- Amy Sinka. (Aff. of Procida at P 5 & Exh. B). Plaintiffs contend that on January 14, 1997, or shortly thereafter, GSC laid off forty full-time employees, plus two part-time temporary employees -- John Hembrough ("Hembrough") and Amy Sinka. (See Plaintiffs' Statement of Facts at P 39). It is undisputed that these employees received severance pay pursuant to the Manual plan terms.
According to defendants, on or about February 22, 1994, twenty-two employees were laid off immediately from the Cherry Hill facility. Hembrough and Jerd were terminated on February 4, 1994, and February 24, 1994, respectively. Part-time employee Christine Gorenstein was terminated on February 18, 1994. (Aff. of Procida at P 7 & Exh. B). Plaintiffs contend that twenty-four full-time employees and one part-time employee were laid off on or after February 22, 1994. (See Plaintiffs' Statement of Facts at P 50).
On February 18, 1994, sixty-two employees were given letters providing notice of future layoffs at various dates on or after April 25, 1994. These employees also received notice of an anticipated plant closing to take place on or after April 25, 1994. On March 2, 1994, six employees received notices of layoff on May 2, 1994. Employees Patricia O'Hara and Michael Dombrosky were laid off without notice on March 7, 1994, and March 31, 1994, respectively. GSC terminated Denise Fidura and Stephen Egerton without notice on July 12, 1994, and July 18, 1994, respectively. Sandra LeFevre was laid off by GSC on June 3, 1994. All employees laid off after February 17, 1994, received severance pay pursuant to the modified plan.
Between January 1, 1994, and August 31, 1994, thirty-eight GSC employees -- including the seventeen Subclass "A" plaintiffs -- at Cherry Hill resigned their employment at GSC. Only three of the Subclass "A" plaintiffs had received layoff notices prior to tendering their resignations. All Subclass "A" plaintiffs had engaged in job searches and obtained job offers from new employers prior to resigning from GSC, and none experienced any period of involuntary unemployment.
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), "summary judgment is proper 'if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).
In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe the facts and inferences in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Pollock v. American Tel. & Tel. Long Lines, 794 F.2d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1986). The role of the court is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).
The substantive law governing the dispute will determine which facts are material, and only disputes over those facts "that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Id. at 248. Where the moving party has carried its initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, "its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Idus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). A genuine issue for trial does not exist "unless the party opposing the motion can adduce evidence which, when considered in light of that party's burden of proof at trial, could be the basis for a jury finding in that party's favor." J.E. Mamiye & Sons, Inc. v. Fidelity Bank, 813 F.2d 610, 618 (3d Cir. 1987) (Becker, J., concurring). If the non-moving party's evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. See Bixler v. Central Pa. Teamsters Health & Welfare Fund, 12 F.3d 1292 (3d Cir. 1993); Trap Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 982 F.2d 884, 890-91 (3d Cir. 1992).
Defendants argue that Class One plaintiffs and Class Two plaintiffs lack standing to bring this action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA").
"ERISA is a comprehensive statute enacted to promote the interests of employees and their beneficiaries in employee benefit plans, . . . and to protect contractually defined benefits . . . ." In re Unisys Corp. Retiree Medical Benefit Lit., 58 F.3d 896, 901 (3d Cir. 1995) (internal quotes and citations omitted). The statute covers two types of employee benefit plans: pension plans and welfare plans. 29 U.S.C.A. § 1002(3) (West 1985). ERISA provides that a civil action may be brought by a participant or beneficiary to recover benefits due to him under the terms of a plan, to enforce his rights under a plan, or to clarify his rights to future benefits under a plan. Id. § 1132(a). ERISA defines "participant" as:
any employee or former employee of an employer, or any member or former member of an employee organization, who is or may become eligible to receive a benefit of any type from an employee benefit plan which covers employees of such employer or members of such organization, or whose beneficiaries may be eligible to receive any such benefit.
Id. § 1002(7).
The Supreme Court has construed "participant" as it is defined in ERISA:
The term "participant" is naturally read to mean either "employees in, or reasonably expected to be in, currently covered employment," . . . or former employees who "have . . . a reasonable expectation of returning to covered employment" or who have "a colorable claim" to vested benefits[.] In order to establish that he or she "may become eligible" for benefits, a claimant must have a colorable claim that (1) he or she will prevail in a suit for benefits, or that (2) eligibility requirements will be fulfilled in the future.