REMY INTERNATIONAL, INC. v. OAKLEY et al
ORDER denying Remy's 88 Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Jury Demand (S.O.). Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore on 10/31/2011. (MAC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
DONALD CHARLES COGSWELL,
INTERNATIONAL UNION, UAW,
REMY INTERNATIONAL, INC.,
) NO. 1:10-cv-00166-JMS-MJD
Entry Denying Defendant’s Motion to Strike Plaintiff’s Jury Demand
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Remy International Inc’s Motion to
Strike Plaintiffs’ Jury Trial Demand [Dkt. 88]. For the following reasons, the Court hereby
DENIES Remy’s Motion.
This case involves Plaintiffs’—a group of retirees, their spouses, and their union—claim
that Remy wrongfully terminated Plaintiffs’ health and life insurance benefits after their
collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) expired. The retirees worked at Remy’s Anderson
Indiana plant, retiring between 1998 and 2003. Remy closed the Anderson plant in March 2003.
At the time of each retiree’s retirement, a 1997 CBA was in effect, which included two
supplemental agreements governing health and life insurance benefits. The 1997 CBA expired
on March 31, 2003, but Remy continued to provide health and life insurance benefits to the
Plaintiffs until 2009, at which time Remy notified Plaintiffs that it would discontinue the
This action is the result of the consolidation of two matters. On February 9, 2010, Remy
filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that it had authority to adopt amendments that
terminated or reduced Plaintiffs’ benefits, that its amendments did not violate the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) or the Labor-Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”), and that Remy did not breach any duties to Plaintiffs. On April 5, 2010, Plaintiffs
commenced suit against Remy under the LMRA and ERISA. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory
judgment, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, damages and interest for any losses
Plaintiffs incurred as a result of Remy’s elimination of their benefits, plus attorney fees, punitive
damages, and costs. On July 16, 2010, the Court consolidated the two cases. Both Plaintiffs’
original Complaint and their Amended Complaint contain a jury demand.
In support of its Motion, Remy primarily argues that Plaintiffs seek an injunction, which
is an equitable remedy not entitling Plaintiffs to a right to trial by jury. [Dkt. 89 at 3]. In
response, Plaintiffs argue that they seek monetary damages, a legal remedy, thereby entitling
them to a jury trial upon demand. [Dkt. 94 at 3]. The Seventh Amendment provides that “[i]n
suits at common law …the right of trial by jury shall be preserved….” U.S. Const. amend. VII.
While seemingly straightforward, the phrase “in suits at common law” occasionally proves
difficult to apply. Generally, the phrase refers to suits where legal rights are ascertained and
determined as opposed to those involving only equitable rights and remedies. Chauffeurs,
Teamsters and Helpers, Local No. 391 v. Terry, 494 U.S. 558, 564 (1990).
The United States Supreme Court has set forth a two-step analysis to determine whether a
claim involves legal rights entitling a party to a jury trial. At step one, the court “‘compare[s] the
statutory action to 18th-century actions brought in the courts of England prior to the merger of
the courts of law and equity.’” Id. at 565 (quoting Tull v. United States, 481 U.S. 412, 417-18
(1987)). Upon return from the 18th-century, the court, at step two, “‘examine[s] the remedy
sought and determine[s] whether it is legal or equitable in nature.’” Id. The second step is the
more important step in the analysis. Id.
In analyzing the remedies, the general rule is that money damages are legal remedies. Id.
at 570. To muddy the waters, however, the Supreme Court noted two exceptions to this general
rule. First, money damages may be characterized as equitable where they are restitutionary in
nature. Id. Second, monetary awards may be equitable when they are “‘incidental to or
intertwined with injunctive relief.’” Id. at 571 (quoting Tull, 481 U.S. at 424).
At step one, the Seventh Circuit has determined that, generally, there is no right to a jury
trial for an ERISA claim because “‘ERISA’s antecedents are equitable,’ not legal.” McDougall
v. Pioneer Ranch Ltd. P’ship, 494 F.3d 571, 576 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Mathews v. Sears
Pension Plan, 144 F.3d 461, 468 (7th Cir. 1998)). Conversely, under § 301 of the LMRA,
claims that an employer breached a CBA are comparable to a common law claim for breach of
contract. See Terry, 494 U.S. at 570. Thus, Plaintiffs’ LMRA claim for breach of the CBA is
comparable to a breach of contract claim, which supports Plaintiffs’ right to a jury trial.
At step two, Plaintiffs seek both damages for breach of the CBA and injunctive relief.
[Dkt. 50 ¶ 1]. Remy argues that, because Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief that would reinstate
their benefits, Plaintiffs’ monetary damages are incidental to and intertwined with the injunction
itself. [Dkt. 89 at 6]. The Seventh Circuit addressed an almost identical situation in Senn v.
United Dominion Indus., Inc., 951 F.2d 806 (7th Cir. 1992). In Senn, the plaintiffs brought a
claim under § 301 of the LMRA seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief as well as
monetary damages. Id. at 811. The court upheld the right to a jury trial on the issue of whether
defendants breached the CBA in violation of LMRA and ERISA. Id. at 814. The court noted
that the claim for monetary relief could be characterized as incidental but explained that “‘[i]t is
well settled that when legal and equitable relief are separately authorized by statute, and the legal
claim is joined with the equitable claim, the right to jury trial on the legal claim, including all
issues common to both claims, remains intact.’” Id. at 813-14 (quoting Tull, 481 U.S. at 42425).
Remy argues that Senn misapplies the Supreme Court’s two-step analysis and is nonbinding dicta. [Dkt. 99 at 7]. At the risk of being accused by Remy of failing to apprehend the
controlling law, the Court disagrees. First, the Court finds Senn to be binding precedent, which
this Court must follow. 1 Second, the Court finds Senn persuasive, even if, as Remy alleges, it is
not binding precedent. Plaintiffs have claimed both legal and equitable theories of recovery.
Remy would have this Court focus only on the equitable aspect of the remedy and ignore the
damages part as merely incidental.2 Remy argues that Plaintiffs cannot be entitled to any
monetary relief under the LMRA without first being awarded an injunction requiring Remy to
reinstate the Plans. [Dkt. 99 at 1]. While that may be the case, the ultimate issue is whether
Remy breached the CBA, which is a legal claim.3 The Plaintiffs have alleged a claim
comparable to a breach of contract claim, which is a legal issue, and have sought legal relief in
The Seventh Circuit has cited Senn for the proposition that when a party seeks both legal and equitable relief, the
defendant has a right to demand a jury trial. See SEC v. Lipson, 278 F.3d 656, 662 (7th Cir. 2002).
Remy cites two cases for the proposition that LMRA claims that are equitable in nature do not entitle plaintiffs to a
jury trial. Both cases are distinguishable from the present case because neither sought monetary damages. See
Meredith v. Allsteel, Inc., No. 92 C 1856, 1994 WL 383925 at *4 (N.D. Ill. July 19, 1994); Oil, Chem. & Atomic
Workers’ Int’l v. Amoco Corp., No. 93 C 5929, 1996 WL 563447, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 27, 1996).
This Court has already determined that the CBA is ambiguous; thus, requiring a trial to make the determination as
to whether Remy could terminate the retirees’ benefits. [Dkt. 75 at 13].
the form of monetary damages. Therefore, the Court finds that, under both steps of the analysis,
Plaintiffs are entitled to a jury trial on that claim.
For the above stated reasons, this Court hereby DENIES Remy’s Motion to Strike
Plaintiffs’ Jury Demand. [Dkt. 88].
Mark J. Dinsmore
United States Magistrate Judge
Southern District of Indiana
Christina L. Clark
BAKER & DANIELS - Indianapolis
Philip John Gutwein II
BAKER & DANIELS - Indianapolis
Barry A. Macey
MACEY SWANSON AND ALLMAN
Jeffrey A. Macey
MACEY SWANSON & ALLMAN
Robert D. Moreland
BAKER & DANIELS
Michael John Nader
BAKER & DANIELS
Andrew A. Nickelhoff
SACHS WALDMAN P.C.
Marshall J. Widick
SACHS WALDMAN P.C.
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