Concrete Pipe & Products of Cal., Inc. v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern Cal., 508 U.S. 602 (1993)

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602

OCTOBER TERM, 1992

Syllabus

CONCRETE PIPE & PRODUCTS OF CALIFORNIA, INC. v. CONSTRUCTION LABORERS PENSION TRUST FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 91-904. Argued December 1, 1992—Decided June 14, 1993

The Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (MPPAA) amended the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to provide that in certain circumstances an employer withdrawing from a multiemployer plan incurs as "withdrawal liability" a share of the plan's unfunded vested benefits, 29 U. S. C. 1381, 1391. Withdrawal liability is assessed by means of a notification by the "plan sponsor" and a demand for payment. 1399(b). An unresolved dispute is referred to arbitration, where (1) the sponsor's factual determinations are "presumed correct" unless a contesting party "shows by a preponderance of the evidence that the determination was unreasonable or clearly erroneous," 1401(a)(3)(A); and (2) the sponsor's actuary's calculation of a plan's unfunded vested benefits is presumed correct unless a contesting party "shows by a preponderance of the evidence" that, inter alia, "the actuarial assumptions and methods" used in a calculation "were, in the aggregate, unreasonable," 1401(a)(3)(B). Petitioner Concrete Pipe and Products of California, Inc., is an employer charged with withdrawal liability by the trustees of respondent, a multiemployer pension plan (Plan). After losing in arbitration, Concrete Pipe filed an action to set aside or modify the arbitrator's decision and raised a constitutional challenge to the MPPAA, but the District Court granted the Plan's motion to confirm the award. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: 1. The MPPAA does not unconstitutionally deny Concrete Pipe an impartial adjudicator by placing the determination of withdrawal liability in the plan sponsor, here the trustees, subject to 1401's presumptions. Pp. 616-636. (a) Even assuming that the possibility of trustee bias toward imposing the greatest possible withdrawal liability would suffice to bar the trustees from serving as adjudicators of Concrete Pipe's withdrawal liability because of their fiduciary obligations to beneficiaries of the Plan, the Due Process Clause is not violated here because the first adjudication in this case was the arbitration proceeding, not the trustees' initial liability determination. The trustees' statutory notification

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