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Williams, et al. v. Retirement Plan for Chicago Transit Authority Employees, et al.
Matthews v. Chicago Transit Authority, et al., No. 11 CH 15446 (Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois). On April 26, 2011, Plaintiffs Jerry Matthews, Jerry Williams, Tommy Sams, Cynthia Boyne and Charles Brown, all employees and retirees of the CTA, filed suit against the CTA and against the Retirement Plan for Chicago Transit Authority Employees, the Board of Trustees of the Retirement Plan for Chicago Transit Authority Employees, the Retiree Health Care Trust, and the Board of Trustees of the Retiree Health Care Trust (collectively, the “Plan and Trust Defendants”). The claims were brought on behalf of two purported classes. Class I consisted of CTA employees who retired before January 1, 2007; Class II consisted of CTA employees who were currently employed by the CTA or retired after January 1, 2007.
Generally, the plaintiffs challenged the reduction of health care benefits for retirees in the 2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) governing CTA employees, and the related provisions of 40 ILCS 5/22-101B, which require retirees to pay up to 45% of the cost of their health care benefits.
On May 5, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court's judgment in part and reversed in part 2016 IL 117638. The Supreme Court determined that the Class II plaintiffs, the current employees and those that retired after January 1, 2007, lacked standing to challenge the 2007 CBA and affirmed the dismissal of all of their claims. The Supreme Court found that the Class I plaintiff, Jerry Williams, who retired prior to the expiration of the 2004 CBA had standing to challenge the modification to health care benefits pursuant to the 2007 CBA. The Supreme Court also found that the Class I plaintiff sufficiently stated a cause of action against the Plan and Trust Defendants for breach of contract, for declaratory judgment, and for violation of the pension protection clause because the 2004 CBA constituted an enforceable, vested right as to those who retired before the expiration of that agreement. Finally, the Supreme Court held that the retired employees were not entitled to pursue their claim of promissory estoppel against the CTA because they sought to enforce an obligation that went beyond the terms of the 2004 CBA. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Circuit Court for further proceedings.
The case is back in the Circuit Court. On May 31, 2017, plaintiffs were granted leave to file a First Amended Complaint, which removed named plaintiffs whose claims were dismissed, removed the CTA as a defendant, and largely removed dismissed claims. The First Amended Complaint lists Jerry Williams as the first named plaintiff, and adds two retiree named plaintiffs, Stewart Cooke and Larry Whitehead. The case is now captioned Williams, et al. v. Retirement Plan for Chicago Transit Authority Employees, et al.
The Retirement Plan for CTA employees and the Board of Trustees of the Retirement Plan for Chicago Transit Authority Employees filed a motion to dismiss a portion of the First Amended Complaint, specifically the allegations challenging the composition of the Retirement Plan Board, and answered the remaining counts. The Retiree Health Care Trust and the Board of Trustees of the Retiree Health Care Trust Defendants also filed a motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint entirely for failure to state a claim. Defendant Trust’s’ motions to dismiss both the First Amended Complaint and Second Amended Complaint were granted by the judge. The Williams plaintiffs were allowed to file a Third Amended Complaint, which is now being challenged by the Trust Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. There is no ruling date set on this Motion. It is being briefed and no hearing date has been set. The parties are engaged in active discovery, including numerous depositions. There is no trial date set in the case. The Retiree Healthcare Trust and its Board, and the Retirement Plan for CTA Employees and its Board, are vigorously defending the matter.