Concrete Pipe and Products of California, Inc. v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California

PETITIONER: Concrete Pipe and Products of California, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California
LOCATION: Safeway grocery store

DOCKET NO.: 91-904
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 508 US 602 (1993)
ARGUED: Dec 01, 1992
DECIDED: Jun 14, 1993

ADVOCATES:
Carol C. Flowe - for Pension Ben
Carol Connor Flowe - on behalf of the amicus curiae supporting the Respondent
Dennis R. Murphy - on behalf of the Petitioner
John S. Miller, Jr. - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Concrete Pipe and Products of California, Inc. v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 01, 1992 in Concrete Pipe and Products of California, Inc. v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in Number 91-904 Concrete Pipe and Products of California v. Construction Laborers' Pension Trust.

Mr. Murphy, you may proceed.

Dennis R. Murphy:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

Although it was fully cognizant of the decisions in Gray and Connolly, Concrete Pipe and Products asked for hearing because it believes the assessment of withdrawal liability under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendment Act is unconstitutional when applied to the facts of this case.

Concrete Pipe and Products requests the Court rule that the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendment Act is unconstitutional under the substantive due process and takings provisions of the Fifth Amendment.

It also asks the Court rule that the presumptions that are set forth in 29 U.S.C. 1401 deprive CP&P of the guaranteed right to procedural due process.

The facts which distinguish Concrete Pipe and Products from Gray and Connolly are the lack of connection between Concrete Pipe and Products and those who will benefit, the imposition of liability without responsibility, the imposition of liability without regard to the employee's expectations, the fact that the act uses an irrational formula of increasing liability on the basis of the amount of contribution, and the retroactivity involved in this case.

With respect to the first fact, the lack of relationship between Concrete Pipe and Products and those who will benefit, it should be noted that this act would require Concrete Pipe and Products to use its funds for the generalized benefit and needs of members of society who have never had any relationship with CP&P.

Antonin Scalia:

Yes, they have had a relationship.

They were involved in the same base of companies that joined together in this plan.

That's a voluntary relationship.

Your client voluntarily went into that relationship with the other companies.

Dennis R. Murphy:

Justice Scalia, our company voluntarily went into the relationship, and the relationship was defined that they went into at the time was a defined contribution... the plan held itself out to be a defined contribution plan to the extent allowed by ERISA.

ERISA allows defined contribution plans.

The plan--

Byron R. White:

At the time.

At the time it did.

Does it still?

Dennis R. Murphy:

--Oh, yes.

ERISA still allows defined contribution plans.

Yes, Justice White.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

But the plan that you entered, your company entered into, is not acknowledged, I gather, as a defined contribution plan under ERISA.

Dennis R. Murphy:

In 1976, when they entered the plan, it was considered to be a defined contribution plan.

I should take note that there are certain allegations--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, it since then decided that it is not, correct?

Dennis R. Murphy:

--I do not believe that is correct.

I think that is an unresolved issue.

The Nachman decision by this Court discussed a case and held that a particular plan was a defined benefit plan, but that case is distinguishable in many respects from this particular plan.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, I thought you didn't raise the issue here or argue this case or present it to us on the basis that it's a defined contribution plan.

Dennis R. Murphy:

We did not--

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