Law School Case Brief
Cont'l Can Co. v. Chi. Truck Drivers, Helpers & Warehouse Workers Union Pension Fund - 916 F.2d 1154 (7th Cir. 1990)
The text of the statute, and not the private intent of the legislators, is the law.
When plaintiff Continental Can employed truck drivers to transport some of its goods in the Chicago area, it made pension contributions to defendant Chicago Truck Drivers Pension Fund. Continental closed its trucking operation in July 1985 and withdrew from the Pension Fund, which demanded that it make good its share of the Fund's under-fundedness -- as it must, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1381, 1391, unless "substantially all" of the Fund's assets come from "employers primarily engaged in the long and short haul trucking industry". An arbitrator determined that 61.6% of the Fund's assets were attributable to such employers and that "substantially all" means 85%; the arbitrator ordered Continental to make withdrawal payments exceeding $700,000. Plaintiff employer brought an action in the district court to set the arbitration award aside. Declining Continental's invitation, the district court enforced the award. On appeal, Continental contended that the Pension Fund qualified for that "substantially all" exception under 29 U.S.C.S. § 1383(d)(2).
Should the employer make withdrawal payments to the pension fund?
The court affirmed the judgment in favor of defendant pension fund, rejecting plaintiff employer's argument that the court should look to the "intent of Congress" in enacting the law. Rather, the plain language of the text, i.e. "substantially all" was a term of art, which meant 85 percent and that the language in § 1383(d)(2) excluded defendant Chicago Truck Drivers Pension Fund.
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