Former Safelite president and CEO Dan Wilson has responded to a request his former employer made for partial summary judgment in a suit he filed last year. The suit alleges that Safelite’s nonqualified deferred compensation plan (known as the Safelite Plan in the case) was mismanaged, causing him to lose millions of dollars to owed income taxes, penalty and interest. In its motion for partial summary judgment, the company alleged that Wilson’s claims are preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
In his response, Wilson argues that “there is no doubt that the Safelite Plan did not conform to ERISA from the very beginning.”
“The evidence found in the Safelite Plan itself and in the surrounding circumstances of its administration indicates that Safelite established the plan primarily to encourage a sale of the company,” writes Wilson’s attorney. “There is no evidence that Safelite encouraged plan participants to comply with tax and deferral requirements, much less to comply with ERISA’s requirements. Because the Safelite Plan is not, and never was, an ERISA pension plan, Dan Wilson brought his claims under state law. And because the Safelite Plan is not, and never was, an ERISA pension plan, Safelite’s partial motion for summary judgment alleging ERISA preemption must be denied.”
The response goes onto argue that “a motion for summary judgment under rule 56 should be denied unless the movant proves that there are no issues of material fact to decide.”
“Summary judgment is only appropriate when the moving party demonstrates that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” writes Wilson’s attorney.
The response continues, “Here, as demonstrated by Safelite’s response and evidence, summary judgment is not appropriate.”
In conclusion, Wilson’s attorney writes, “The Safelite plan was not drafted or administered as an ERISA-covered pension plan. The Safelite plan therefore was not an ERISA-covered pension plan. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s claims are not preempted by ERISA, and Safelite’s motion for partial summary judgment should be denied.”
At press time, the judge had not ruled on the motion. The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.