Judge won’t alter order

WARREN – A federal judge will not reconsider her order that what is expected to be thousands of pages of records related to Delphi pension plans be surrendered to Delphi salaried retirees, the judge said in an order Thursday.

She will, however, leave the decision on whether a deadline for the surrender of the records should be delayed up to another judge involved in the case, she said.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub was responding to a request from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., or PBGC, filed last week asking that she reconsider her order that the entity surrender the documents.

The PBGC, which took over pensions of Delphi Salaried retirees after the company’s 2009 bankruptcy, had filed a separate motion Wednesday asking the judge to delay the deadline.

Instead, Majzoub dispensed with oral arguments on the matter and called for no responses due to “the emergency nature of the motions” and, in an unusual move, ruled on the matter immediately.

The ruling is part of an ongoing 2009 civil suit filed by Delphi salaried retirees against the PBGC in an attempt to regain large portions of retiree pensions lost after Delphi declared bankruptcy, and the PBGC took over the pensions. About 1,500 local salaried retirees were affected.

Among their arguments, PBGC attorneys maintained the judge failed to acknowledge a federal court document filed a year ago that outlined an understanding between the two sides that the massive document must first be reviewed by PBGC before the entity produced “all responsive, non-privileged documents to plaintiffs before it turned to the task of logging the privileged documents.”

The judge, however, ruled that the understanding approved by U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow carried a footnote indicating that PBGC “has withheld an unspecified number of otherwise responsive documents on privilege grounds and intends to produce a privilege log at the conclusion of its production of non-archived documents.”

The judge goes on to point out that the defendants had promised, according to the footnote, to know within 45 days when it would be able to produce the remainder of the non-archived documents.

“Yet within that year defendant PBGC has still not identified the privileges it claims or produced a privilege log,” the ruling states.

The magistrate judge said the requested delay would be granted only until Judge Tarnow, who signed off on the agreement about disclosure a year ago, makes a ruling on whether the documents can be withheld on the basis of privilege.

Bruce Gump of Niles, chairman of the Warren Legislative Group and vice chairman for the Board of Directors of the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association, on Thursday applauded the judge’s action and called the PBGC’s reaction “desperate.”

“The PBGC is desperate and tried a Hail Mary pass, and they lost. Now they are required to give us the documents we have been seeking,” Gump said.

The order still may be appealed to a higher federal court.