Supreme Court sides with hardscape dealer Haluch Gravel in Operating Engineers pension case

Sources: U.S. Supreme Court; Oyez Archive/Kent College of Law, Chicago; CP staff

The Supreme Court has reversed a U.S. Court of Appeals decision for plaintiffs (Funds), led by the Central Pension Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which had pursued additional contributions and reimbursement of litigation expenses from Ray Haluch Gravel Co.

Ludlow, Mass.-based Haluch Gravel petitioned the High Court for review of technical questions on whether the Funds’ appeal of a U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Boston) order were timely or untimely under federal rules. The Court of Appeals judged the Funds’ appeal timely, overruling the District Court.

In the Ray Haluch Gravel Co. et al v. Central Pension Fund of International Union of Operating Engineers and Participating Employers et al opinion, the Supreme Court reverses the Court of Appeals and remands the case to the District Court in Boston. The opinion notes that the latter court determined in June and July 2011, respectively, that Funds were entitled to a) an additional $26,900 in pension contributions, lower than an unspecified target amount; and, b) attorney’s fees and costs of $34,700, against the $143,600 net reimbursement they sought.

Haluch Gravel has had collective bargaining agreements with the Operating Engineers. The unit is involved in aggregate production for a retail business, Haluch’s Landscaping Products, whose hardscape program includes paver and segmental retaining wall products from such leading brands as Belgard, Bolduc, Ideal, Keystone, Pavestone and Techo-Bloc. The Funds initiated an audit of the producer’s bargaining unit payroll and pension plan contributions in 2007. Haluch refused to honor requested increases, prompting a federal lawsuit where the Funds alleged Employee Retirement Income and Security Act and Labor Management Relations Act violations.