On Oct. 24, 2013, a putative class action lawsuit was filed against a carpenters' union pension plan that unlawfully reduced the disability retirement benefits of hundreds of workers. Click here to see a copy of the Class Action Complaint.
The Detroit area law firm of Hertz Schram PC filed the lawsuit against the Carpenters Pension Trust Fund - Detroit and Vicinity Pension Plan ("Carpenters Pension Plan") and its trustees.
The trustees of the trust fund made drastic reductions to the disability retirement benefits of permanently disabled carpenters and millwrights who worked in the Detroit area. These workers belonged to several unions, including:
- The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters
- The United Brotherhood of Carpenters
- Carpenters Local 687
- Carpenters Local 1234
- Millwrights Local 1102
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding The Lawsuit Against the Carpenters Pension Plan
Q: Who was covered by the pension plan?
A: The Carpenters Pension Plan is a collectively bargained multiemployer plan that generally covers carpenters and millwrights who worked in the Detroit area.
Q: What was the nature of the reduction?
A: The trustees for the Plan adopted an amendment, effective Aug. 1, 2013, that drastically reduced disability retirement benefits under the plan. The persons affected are people whom the trustees had previously determined to be permanently and totally disabled from working in their trade in the construction industry.
Q: What are the goals of the lawsuit?
There are two primary goals of this class action lawsuit:
- To reinstate the original amount of the disability retirement benefit before the cuts.
- To recover the shortfall for the period before the reinstatement.
Q: What is a class action lawsuit?
A: A class action is a lawsuit in which the claims of multiple individuals are grouped together to promote judicial efficiency. Class action lawsuits typically involve common issues of law and fact.
In this case, we filed this lawsuit as a class action because the reduction in disability retirement benefits similarly impacts all disability retirees who started receiving their disability retirement benefit on or after September 1, 2008.
Certification of the Class
On September 15, 2014, the Court certified the Class, appointed Thomas E. Underwood as the Class representative, and appointed Hertz Schram PC as Class Counsel. Click here to see a copy of the Court's Class Certification Opinion and Order.
The Court's Ruling on the Merits of the Class Claim
In a separate Opinion and Order, also issued on September 15, 2014, the Court ruled that the Reduction Amendment was illegal and unenforceable. Click here to see a copy of the Court's Opinion and Order on the Merits of the Class Claim.
Formal Notice to Class Members
On November 21, 2014, the Court issued an Order approving (i) Class Counsel's proposed means of notifying Class members about the Class Action--first class mail, and (ii) a proposed Comprehensive Class Notice to be included in the mailing. The Comprehensive Class Notice was mailed on November 26, 2014. If you are a Class member, you should have received a copy of the Comprehensive Class Notice by mail within a few days after the mailing. Click here to see a copy of the Comprehensive Class Notice.
If you are a Class member, you may find answers to your questions in the Comprehensive Class Notice. Questions may also be directed to the following pension specialist who is the lead attorney for the Class Action:
Eva T. Cantarella, Partner, Pensions and Employee Benefits
Hertz Schram PC
1760 S. Telegraph Rd., Suite 300
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302
About Pension Specialist Ms. Eva T. Cantarella
Eva Cantarella is a partner at the law firm of Hertz Schram. She is a nationally recognized pension law attorney and a member of the United States Tax Court and every United States Court of Appeals, including the United States Supreme Court.
Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, Michigan
- J.D. cum laude
- Law Review: Wayne Law Review
Oakland University, Rochester
- B.A. summa cum laude
- Honors: Awards in mathematics
- Major: Political science and economics
Call Eva T. Cantarella Today
Ms. Cantarella has spearheaded the litigation against the Carpenters Pension Trust Fund - Detroit and Vicinity Pension Plan. She is currently accepting new clients to join this class action lawsuit.
Call Ms. Cantarella at 248-335-5000 for a consultation.