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Case Name Tomlinson v. El Paso Corp. EE-CO-0063
Docket / Court 04-cv-02686-WDM-MEH ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On December 29, 2004, employees of El Paso Corporation filed a lawsuit under ERISA and the ADEA against their employer in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory ... read more >
On December 29, 2004, employees of El Paso Corporation filed a lawsuit under ERISA and the ADEA against their employer in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory relief, claiming that changes made to their pension plans violated federal law. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that their pension plans were negatively impacted when El Paso Corporation changed to a cash balance formula for determining pension benefits.

On March 22, 2007, the court (Judge Walker Miller) dismissed one of the plaintiffs' claims under ERISA (Claim III) but denied the defendant's motion to dismiss on all other claims. The Court found that the statute of limitations did not bar the remaining claims from proceeding. 2007 WL 891378 (D. Colo. Mar. 22, 2007).

On March 19, 2008, the court granted the defendant's motion for judgments on the pleadings, and granted in part and denied in part Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. The court dismissed Claims II and IV; as a result, only Claims I and V remained. Claim I alleged that the "wear-away period" in the pension plan violated the ADEA. Claim V alleged that the Summary Plan Description violated ERISA section 102 (29 U.S.C. § 1022). The court granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification and conditionally approved the ADEA collective action on the condition that they resubmit a class definition in accord with the Court's dismissal of some of their claims. 2008 WL 762456 (D. Colo. Mar. 19, 2008).

On January 21, 2009, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion to reconsider the dismissal of Claims II and IV. The court also granted the defendant's motions for summary judgment on the ADEA claim, holding that it was time-barred because the conversion to a cash balance formula was a "discrete act" under Ledbetter v. Goodyear. Further, the court dismissed the plaintiffs' remaining ERISA (alleging inadequate notice in the Summary Plan Description) claim because there was no evidence that the plaintiffs relied on the Summary Plan Description or that they suffered prejudice because of it. After this decision, Plaintiffs had no remaining claims. 2009 WL 151532 (D. Colo. Jan. 21, 2009).

The court granted plaintiffs' motion to alter or amend judgment on August 28, 2009. As a result of the Ledbetter Legislation, the court decided that the plaintiffs' ADEA claim (Claim I) was not time-barred. 2009 WL 2766718 (D. Colo. Aug. 28, 2009).

On September 17, 2009, the defendants filed a renewed motion for summary judgment on the merits of ADEA claim. On July 26, 2010, the court found for the defendants and granted summary judgment, finding that the pension transition did not violate ADEA.

On August 6, 2010, the court entered its judgment against the plaintiffs and in favor of defendants on claim 1.

On August 19, 2010, the defendants filed a motion to bifurcate attorneys' fees. On August 25, the court granted the motion upon the condition that their motion included a good faith estimate of the dollar amount of their claim.

On August 20, 2010, the defendants submitted a motion seeking $141,423.03 in costs; approximately $98,000.00 of that amount was attributable to “Mercer electronic discovery ordered by Court.” After a hearing, the court awarded the defendants $5220.25, representing $4,086.35 for the costs of transcripts, witness fees of $1,021.00, and copying charges of $120.90.

On August 24, 2010, the plaintiffs filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

On August 27, 2010, the defendants filed a motion for attorneys' fees under ERISA for fees incurred in defending against the plaintiffs’ ERISA claims up until the January 21, 2009 order dismissing the plaintiffs’ final ERISA claim. The plaintiffs opposed the motion, arguing that attorneys’ fees should not be awarded.

On March 30, 2011, the court denied the defendant's motion for attorneys' fees.

On June 9, 2011, the court granted in part and denied in part the defendant's motion for taxation of costs. The court increased its award from $5,220.25 to $7,995.90, but denied the other motions.

On August 11, 2011, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision. In its opinion, the court explained that “wear-away” periods were caused by giving a transition period that employers were not obligated by law to give. The court refused to punish the defendants for giving a benefit it was not obligated to give in the first place. Second, the court recognized that the cash balance benefit continued to grow equally for everyone, irrespective of the age of the employee. Finally, the court noted that older workers had the option of choosing the “frozen” final average pay benefit rather than the cash balance benefit, if any employee found that to be more valuable.

The court also made clear that when employers make major changes to their pension plans they must give notice of those changes to employees. The court analyzed and approved the notices that the defendants sent out to its employees, making specific and detailed findings regarding what employers must include in Summary Plan Descriptions – and what they need not include – when changes are made to pension plans.

On December 22, 2011, the plaintiffs filed Petition for Writ of Certiorari, but it was denied on February 28, 2012.

This case is now closed.

Haley Waller - 08/18/2010
Ginny Lee - 04/10/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq.
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1001
Defendant(s) El Paso Corporation
Plaintiff Description Employees of El Paso Corporation whose pension benefits were negatively impacted when El Paso changed its pension plans to a cash balance formula.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Age Discrimination Class Action seeks Fair Employment for Older PwC Applicants
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  Smith Barney Gender Discrimination
https://www.lieffcabraser.com/employment/smith-barney/
Date: August 2008
By: Outten & Golden
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Date: Mar. 1, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:04-cv-02686-WDM-CBS (D. Colo.)
EE-CO-0063-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT [ECF# 1]
EE-CO-0063-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/29/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION AND CONDITIONAL APPROVAL OF ADEA COLLECTIVE ACTION [ECF# 107]
EE-CO-0063-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/19/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS [ECF# 108] (2007 WL 891378 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 20766) (D. Colo.)
EE-CO-0063-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/22/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER ON MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND MOTION FOR CLASS ACTION CERTIFICATION [ECF# 213] (2008 WL 762456 / 2008 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 21668) (D. Colo.)
EE-CO-0063-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/19/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DEFENDANTS' MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON ADEA CLAIM FOR FAILURE TO FILE A TIMELY CHARGE OF DISCRIMINATION [ECF# 221]
EE-CO-0063-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Report on the Impact of Amending the Defined Benefit Retirement Plan to the Cash Balance Pension (CBP Select) on Older Employees [ECF# 221]
EE-CO-0063-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE ADEA CLAIM [ECF# 229]
EE-CO-0063-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/28/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DEFENDANTS' MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON CLAIM V [ECF# 233]
EE-CO-0063-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Rebuttal Report of Ian H. Altman, FSA [ECF# 232]
EE-CO-0063-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF A CONTINUANCE UNDER RULE 56(f) AND IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON CLAIM V [ECF# 237]
EE-CO-0063-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/06/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DEFENDANTS' REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON CLAIM V [ECF# 256]
EE-CO-0063-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER ON MOTION TO RECONSIDER AND MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF# 311] (2009 WL 151532 / 2009 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 4214) (D. Colo.)
EE-CO-0063-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/21/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT ENTERED ON JANUARY 23, 2009 [ECF# 314]
EE-CO-0063-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DEFENDANTS' RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT [ECF# 323]
EE-CO-0063-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DECLARATION OF MICHAEL P. WARD [ECF# 325-14]
EE-CO-0063-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT ENTERED ON JANUARY 23, 2009 [ECF# 330]
EE-CO-0063-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/03/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Response to the Report of Robert A. Bardwell, Ph.D. [ECF# 338-6]
EE-CO-0063-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Rebuttal Report on the Impact of Amending the Defined Benefit Retirement Plan to the Cash Balance Pension (CBP Select) on Older Employees [ECF# 338-7]
EE-CO-0063-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER ON MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT [ECF# 359] (2009 WL 2766718 / 2009 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 77341) (D. Colo.)
EE-CO-0063-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/28/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DEFENDANTS' MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF RENEWED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON ADEA CLAIM [ECF# 363]
EE-CO-0063-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/17/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ RENEWED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON ADEA CLAIM [ECF# 376]
EE-CO-0063-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/02/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 392] (733 F.Supp.2d 1274) (D. Colo.)
EE-CO-0063-0023.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/26/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Miller, Walker David (D. Colo.)
EE-CO-0063-0002 | EE-CO-0063-0003 | EE-CO-0063-0004 | EE-CO-0063-0005 | EE-CO-0063-0023 | EE-CO-0063-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bruce, Stephen (District of Columbia)
EE-CO-0063-0001 | EE-CO-0063-0016 | EE-CO-0063-0018 | EE-CO-0063-0019 | EE-CO-0063-0020 | EE-CO-0063-0021 | EE-CO-0063-0022 | EE-CO-0063-9000
Caalim, Allison (District of Columbia)
EE-CO-0063-0019 | EE-CO-0063-0020 | EE-CO-0063-0021 | EE-CO-0063-0022 | EE-CO-0063-9000
Roseman, Barry D. (Colorado)
EE-CO-0063-0001 | EE-CO-0063-0016 | EE-CO-0063-0018 | EE-CO-0063-0019 | EE-CO-0063-0020 | EE-CO-0063-0021 | EE-CO-0063-0022 | EE-CO-0063-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Kirkpatrick, Joshua B. (Colorado)
EE-CO-0063-0006 | EE-CO-0063-0007 | EE-CO-0063-0008 | EE-CO-0063-0009 | EE-CO-0063-0010 | EE-CO-0063-9000
Nadel, Darren E. (Colorado)
EE-CO-0063-0006 | EE-CO-0063-0007 | EE-CO-0063-0008 | EE-CO-0063-0009 | EE-CO-0063-0010 | EE-CO-0063-9000
Randall, Melissa M. (Colorado)
EE-CO-0063-0006 | EE-CO-0063-0007 | EE-CO-0063-0008 | EE-CO-0063-0009 | EE-CO-0063-0010 | EE-CO-0063-9000
Rillo, Christopher J. (California)
EE-CO-0063-0006 | EE-CO-0063-0007 | EE-CO-0063-0008 | EE-CO-0063-0009 | EE-CO-0063-0010 | EE-CO-0063-9000

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