Faust et al v. Avinmeritor, Incorporated
ORDER Denying 51 Motion for Reconsideration of September 6 Decisions - Signed by District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds. (LBar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
ROBERT COLE, et al.,
Case Nos. 03-73872, 04-73656
(Consolidated Oct. 18, 2005)
Honorable Nancy G. Edmunds
MERITOR, INC., f/k/a
ARVINMERITOR, INC., et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
OF SEPTEMBER 6 DECISIONS 
On September 6, 2017, the Court entered an Opinion and Order Granting Defendants'
Motion to Dissolve Injunction and Enter Judgment for Defendants. (Dkt. # 49). This matter
is now before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration filed on September 20,
2017. (Dkt. # 51).1 Plaintiffs argue that the Court's September 6, 2017 Order is based on
outcome-determinative palpable defects. Plaintiffs argue that the Order misapprehended
the forfeiture principle. Plaintiffs also argue that the Order omitted key terms in the
collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs") that are expressly durational, promising monthly
reimbursements of Medicare Part B premiums to each retiree over 65 and surviving spouse
who is receiving a monthly pension benefit. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
DENIES Plaintiffs' motion.
Pursuant to Rule 7.1(h) of the Local Rules for the Eastern District of Michigan, a party
may file a motion for reconsideration within fourteen days after a court issues an order to
On September 25, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Supplemental Authority (Dkt. # 52),
which the Court has reviewed and considered.
which the party objects. Although a court has the discretion to grant such a motion, it
generally will not grant a motion for reconsideration that "merely present[s] the same issues
ruled upon by the court, either expressly or by reasonable implication." E.D. Mich. R.
7.1(h). To persuade the court to grant the motion, the movant "must not only demonstrate
a palpable defect by which the court and the parties . . . have been misled but also show
that correcting the defect will result in a different disposition of the case." Id.
Plaintiffs maintain that they did not forfeit the argument regarding the promise of
Medicare Part B premium reimbursements, which Plaintiffs verbally raised at the August
30, 2017 hearing. Plaintiffs note that "the Part B promises have been part of plaintiffs'
claims from the start" and "were enforced in Cole I (2005), II (2006), and III (2008)."
Plaintiffs further note that, "[l]imited to a 15-page rehearing response," they could not
address "every aspect of the voluminous record" before the Sixth Circuit. They claim they
did not need to raise the Medicare Part B argument because Defendants "did not challenge
the pension-tied Part B obligations in their rehearing petition."
The Court finds that Plaintiffs have not met their burden on a motion for
reconsideration. As the Court explained in its September 6, 2017 decisions, "Plaintiffs
raised this issue for the first time at the August 30 hearing, and did not so much as mention
it — much less present a supporting argument of any sort — in either their response to
Defendants' motion or their submissions to the Sixth Circuit following the appellate court's
recent ruling." Plaintiffs' argument that Defendants did not challenge the promise of
Medicare Part B premium reimbursements is not well-taken. The fact is that Plaintiffs failed
to raise their Medicare Part B argument even in the face of Defendants' request that the
Sixth Circuit reverse this Court's decision and order that judgment be entered in favor of
Defendants. Plaintiffs again failed to raise their argument in their written opposition to
Defendants' motion before this Court to dissolve the injunctions, enter final judgment for
Defendants, and dismiss the complaint with prejudice. Plaintiffs did not seek leave from
the Sixth Circuit or this Court to submit additional briefing on this argument, either before
or after Plaintiffs verbally raised this argument at the August 30 hearing. This Court did not
err in concluding that it need not consider this argument because Plaintiffs forfeited the
issue. See Lamson & Sessions Co. v. Peters, 576 F. App'x 538, 543 (6th Cir. 2014); Howe
v. City of Akron, 801 F.3d 718, 742-43 (6th Cir. 2015). Plaintiffs could have and should
have raised this argument earlier.
Plaintiffs also argue that they are entitled to rule 56 proceedings or trial on the
promise of Medicare Part B premium reimbursements to each over-65 retiree and surviving
spouse receiving a monthly pension benefit. Plaintiffs maintain that the September 6, 2017
decisions omitted expressly durational terms tying Medicare Part B premium
reimbursements to pensions, which Plaintiffs argue prove that the Medicare Part B
premium reimbursement obligations are vested. Plaintiffs also note that, in Cole v. Meritor,
Inc., 855 F.3d 695 (6th Cir. 2017) (Cole IV), the Sixth Circuit did not review the provisions
containing the promise of Medicare Part B premium reimbursements. According to
Plaintiffs, this promise is separate and distinct from the "shall be continued thereafter"
promise analyzed in Cole IV.
The Court again finds that Plaintiffs have not met their burden on a motion for
reconsideration. As explained in the September 6, 2017 decisions,
in awarding the preliminary injunctive relief sought by Plaintiffs — i.e., the
reinstatement of Defendants' obligation to 'pay the full cost of health benefits
for [the plaintiff] retirees,' 516 F. Supp. 2d at 880 — the Court did not
separately analyze the two promises in Exhibit B-1 to provide retiree
healthcare benefits and reimburse retirees for their Medicare premiums.
Instead, the Court applied the very same reasoning — including, most
notably, the [now-abrogated] Yard-Man inference — to determine that
Defendants were bound by each of these promises to pay the promised
healthcare benefits for the lifetimes of the retirees and their surviving spouses.
516 F. Supp. 2d at 866-67. It surely follows that the Sixth Circuit's recent
ruling operates across the board to reverse this Court's findings, leaving no
room for the Court to revisit the CBA language or extrinsic evidence bearing
upon either healthcare benefits or Medicare premium reimbursement.
(Dkt. # 49, Pg ID 672).
Even if Plaintiffs had not forfeited this argument, and even if the Medicare premium
reimbursement promise were separate and distinct from the "shall be continued thereafter"
promise analyzed in Cole IV such that the Court could revisit the CBA language, Plaintiffs'
argument would still fail.
In Article XX, the CBAs (or "Agreement") at issue provide for an Insurance Program
"by Supplemental Agreements signed by the parties simultaneously with the execution of
this Agreement, which Supplemental Agreements and Plans are attached hereto as . . .
Exhibit "B" and "B-1" . . . and made part of this Agreement as if set out in full herein, subject
to all provisions of this Agreement."2 In Article XIX, the Agreement also includes a generaldurational clause specifying that the Agreement "shall continue in full force and effect
without change until 10:00 a.m., July 19, 1994." Exhibit B, titled "Supplemental Agreement
(Insurance Program)," references Exhibit B-1 as the "Program" and makes it part of Exhibit
B. At Section 1, Exhibit B specifies that, in the event of any conflict, the provisions of
Exhibit B will supersede the provisions of Exhibit B-1. At Section 10, Exhibit B includes its
For simplicity, the Court will again use the 1991-1994 Rockwell-UAW Agreement as a
typical example of language, which remained essentially unchanged over the relevant time
own durational clause: "This [Supplemental] Agreement and Program as modified and
supplemented by this [Supplemental] Agreement shall continue in effect until the
termination of the National Agreement of which this is a part." Article IV, Section 1 of
Exhibit B-1 provides for reimbursement of Medicare Part B premiums:
A retiree who is enrolled for Medicare coverage that is available by making
monthly premium payments under the Federal Social Security Act, will, while
so enrolled, receive a monthly benefit equivalent to the premium then in force
provided the retiree is receiving a monthly pension benefit.
A surviving spouse who is enrolled for such Medicare coverage will receive the
same monthly benefit, provided the surviving spouse is receiving a monthly
pension benefit . . . .
The phrase "until the termination of the National Agreement of which this is a part" in
Exhibit B's durational clause limits Defendants' promise to provide the healthcare benefits
outlined in Exhibit B-1, which include the reimbursement of Medicare Part B premiums. In
turn, the "termination" date and time are set forth in the National Agreement's generaldurational clause. Read in tandem, these two clauses unambiguously promise Medicare
Part B premium benefits, along with the other healthcare benefits, only until the termination
of the National Agreement. This contract expressly states that the general-durational
clause applies to the healthcare benefit promises outlined in Exhibit B-1. See Cole IV, 855
F.3d at 700 ("Exhibit B to each CBA had its own durational clause . . . that explicitly tied
healthcare benefits to the continuing existence of the CBA in question. . . . Meritor
guaranteed healthcare benefits only until the expiration of the final CBA, nothing more.
This result is in line with the ordinary principles of contract law, which dictate that
'contractual obligations will cease, in the ordinary course, upon termination of the
bargaining agreement.' [Gallo v. Moen Inc., 813 F.3d 265, 279 (6th Cir. 2016), cert. denied,
137 S. Ct. 375 (2016)] (quoting [M & G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, 135 S. Ct. 926, 937
Plaintiffs rely on Reese v. CNH Indus. N.V., 854 F.3d 877 (6th Cir. 2017) (Reese III),
decided on the same day as Cole IV, to argue that the segregation of the Medicare
premium reimbursement promise coupled with the terms of the promise tying it to "receiving
a monthly pension benefit" proves vesting (or, presumably, at least creates ambiguity).
However, even Reese III acknowledged that "if the CBA clearly stated that the generaldurational clause was intended to govern healthcare benefits, the CBA would most likely
be unambiguous." 854 F.3d at 883. The Agreement at issue here, unlike the agreement
at issue in Reese III, states that the healthcare benefits outlined in Exhibit B-1, which
include the reimbursement of Medicare Part B premiums, would last "until the termination
of the National Agreement." Accordingly, tying the Medicare premium reimbursement
promise to pension benefits did not make the duration of the healthcare benefits ambiguous
in this case. See Watkins v. Honeywell Int'l Inc., __ F.3d __, No. 17-3032, 2017 WL
5163221, at *6 (6th Cir. Nov. 8, 2017).
For the reasons set forth above,
The Court hereby DENIES Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration (Dkt. # 51).
s/Nancy G. Edmunds
Nancy G. Edmunds
United States District Judge
Dated: November 14, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of
record on November 14, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/Carol J. Bethel
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