Jenner & Block

Jenner & Block Client Dow Chemical Co. Wins Sixth Circuit Victory in Retiree Pension Dispute

Jenner & Block Partners Craig C. Martin and Amanda S. Amert secured an appellate victory for Dow Chemical Co. when the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Northern Division’s ruling that Dow did not abuse discretion in calculating pension benefits by excluding certain timeframes.

In Johnston v. Dow Employees’ Pension Plan and Dow Chemical Company Retirement Board, Dow retiree Robert Johnston alleged that the company’s retirement board improperly introduced a new method of retirement benefit calculations into Dow’s Employees’ Pension Plan for employees who were transferred from Dow to the joint venture – DuPont Dow Elastomers – and then back to Dow. Johnston claimed that the board miscalculated pension benefits, and violated ERISA’s anti-cutback rule, by excluding the nine years he worked in the joint venture between Dow and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.  “However,” the Sixth Circuit majority wrote in its July 19, 2017, ruling, “because the board’s determinations were not arbitrary or capricious or in violation of the anti-cutback rule, we affirm the denial of Johnston’s claims.”

The case was first brought to the court on August 5, 2016.