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FORRISH v. KENNEDY (05/24/54)

May 24, 1954

FORRISH
v.
KENNEDY, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 338, Jan. T., 1953, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Dec. T., 1951, No. 17, in case of Vincent Forrish v. Thomas Kennedy et al. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Frank J. Gormley, with him Martin v. Gormley, for appellants.

Andrew Hourigan, Jr., with him Leo W. White, Allan M. Kluger and George A. Spohrer, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Chidsey

[ 377 Pa. Page 371]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE CHIDSEY

This appeal arises out of an action in equity tried upon a case stated to compel the trustees of the Anthracite Health and Welfare Fund to pay the plaintiff a retirement pension out of the fund.

The relevant facts as agreed to by the parties are as follows: In 1909 the plaintiff, Vincent Forrish, a miner in the anthracite coal industry in Pennsylvania, became a member of the United Mine Workers of America, District 1, after he fulfilled the necessary qualifications and paid the required initiation fee. From that time until the present he has continuously maintained such membership by paying the necessary dues and assessments and by otherwise meeting the obligations of membership. From on or about June 17, 1947 to June 23, 1950 he held a Restaurant Liquor License for certain premises in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

The constitution of the International Union, United Mine Workers of America, effective November 1, 1948, in Article XIV, Section 2 contains a provision that persons engaged in the sale of intoxicating liquors shall not be eligible for membership. Notwithstanding

[ 377 Pa. Page 372]

    the fact that he engaged in the sale of intoxicating liquors, of which the local officers of the Union were well aware, he continued to pay the requisite dues to such officers until June, 1952 in order to maintain his membership in the Union.

The stipulation between the parties further recites that by an agreement entered into on June 7, 1946 between the International Union and Districts, 1, 7 and 9, United Mine Workers of America, parties of the first part, and the Anthracite Operators, parties of the second part, an irrevocable trust was created, known as the Anthracite Health and Welfare Fund, with funds thereafter provided by the signatory anthracite operators. This agreement and three supplemental agreements provided that the fund was to be managed by three trustees. The several agreements provided that the fund was to be used for making payments to members of the United Mine Workers of America, and their dependents and survivors with respect to wage loss and other related welfare purposes and for the establishment of a separate fund to be used for pensions or annuities. The agreements also provided that "... Subject to the stated purposes of the Fund, the Trustees shall have full authority with respect to questions of coverage and eligibility, priorities among classes of benefits, amounts of benefits, methods of providing or arranging for provisions of benefits and all related matters.". (Emphasis supplied).

On July 26, 1948 the defendants, Thomas Kennedy, Robert L. Birtley and Mart F. Brennan, as the duly appointed trustees of the fund, acting in pursuance of the authority vested in them by the several agreements, adopted a resolution which, as amended on April 18, 1949, reads as ...


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