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Whitehouse v. IC Corp.

October 13, 2006

ROBERT WHITEHOUSE AND PLAINTIFFS GINA WHITEHOUSE
v.
IC CORPORATION AND INTERNATIONAL TRUCK AND ENGINE COMPANY DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Leon Holmes United States District Judge

OPINION

Robert and Gina Whitehouse commenced this action in the Circuit Court of Faulkner County, Arkansas, against Robert Whitehouse's former employer, IC Corporation, and its parent company, International Truck and Engine Corporation, alleging fraud and breach of contract. The Whitehouses allege that the defendants made several promises to Robert Whitehouse to induce him to stay with IC Corporation and to reject a job offer to become the CEO of Federal Coach. They allege that the defendants have not kept any of their promises. The defendants removed the suit. The Whitehouses now move to remand this action back to the circuit court. For the following reasons, that motion is granted.

I.

According to the amended complaint, Robert Whitehouse was the president and CEO of IC Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Truck. While Whitehouse was working for IC Corporation, Federal Coach approached him about becoming its president and CEO. Whitehouse received a formal offer from Federal Coach a few months thereafter. Whitehouse turned down the offer because of promises made by several International Truck officers, including Tom Cellitti, who was the vice president of International Truck's bus group division and Whitehouse's supervisor, that Whitehouse would become an International Truck employee and receive improved benefits. The benefits that Whitehouse was allegedly promised included:

* Being considered an International Truck employee as of his IC Corporation hire date;

* Continued health care for both of the Whitehouses until death; and

* Continued life insurance at five times Whitehouse's salary.

The complaint also states that Whitehouse was "shown a package of scenarios [that calculated] Whitehouse's pension benefits based on retirement at age 55, various wage increases and a start date of January 1, 1996."

Whitehouse alleges that the promises were not fulfilled. The complaint states that "Whitehouse was informed that his benefits under the Managerial Retirement Objective would be determined based on his Final Average Compensation from January 1, 2004, rather than the promised January 1, 1996[,] date." The "Managerial Retirement Objective," according to a letter from International Truck to Scott Lancaster, Whitehouse's attorney, is an International Truck ERISA plan. The letter states:

This letter responds to your letter . . . in which you . . . requested various benefit plan information pursuant to Section 104 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended ("ERISA").

[A] copy of all plan documents . . . pertaining to the International Truck and Engine Corporation Retirement Savings Plan (the "RSP") and the International Truck and Engine Corporation Managerial Retirement Objective Plan (the "MRO Plan") was previously provided to you. Although not referenced in your letter, a copy of the Requested Plan Documentation pertaining to the IC Corporation 401(k) Plan (the "IC 401(k) Plan") and the Retirement Plan for Employees of IC Corporation (the "IC Pension Plan") was also previously provided for you.

Please not that the above-referenced employee benefit plans represent an exhaustive * * * list of retirement plans in which Mr. Whitehouse was a "participant," as defined in Section 3(7) of ERISA.

Whitehouse also alleges that the defendants terminated him April 21, 2005, and required him to exercise any vested stock options within 90 days, both in violation of the ...


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