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FARRELL v. BOARD TRUSTEES SOCIAL SECURITY FUND DISTILLERY (10/09/70)

decided: October 9, 1970.

FARRELL
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY FUND OF THE DISTILLERY, RECTIFYING, WINE AND ALLIED WORKERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Jan. T., 1968, No. 598, in case of Frank J. Farrell v. The Board of Trustees of the Social Security Fund of the Distillery, Rectifying, Wine and Allied Workers' International Union of America, AFL-CIO.

COUNSEL

Frank Bielitsky, with him Meranze, Katz, Spear and Bielitsky, for appellant.

Fred Lowenschuss, with him Snyder and Lowenschuss, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Cohen joins in this dissenting opinion.

Author: Roberts

[ 440 Pa. Page 256]

Frank J. Farrell obtained a default judgment against the Social Security Fund of the Distillery, Rectifying,

[ 440 Pa. Page 257]

Wine and Allied Workers' Union, AFL-CIO, in an action which he brought to recover health and accident benefits allegedly due him on a policy issued by the Fund. This is an appeal by the Fund from its unsuccessful attempt to have the judgment opened or stricken.

The Fund was created by the Union, through a trust agreement, in order to provide health, accident and death benefits for all Union members. Although the Fund provides benefits for members of all the Union's locals, located in about half of the fifty states, its only office is in New Jersey. To act as liaison between the Fund and the members of Local 136, a "Welfare Representative," Harry Newman, was appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Fund, upon recommendation of the Local.*fn1 The Fund paid Newman approximately $150.00 per month for his services as the welfare representative, but Newman's duties were actually performed through the Philadelphia office of Local 136, by Samuel Jacobs, the Local's business representative, and by Mrs. DeAngelo, Jacob's secretary.

In essence, these duties consisted of processing the benefit claims which were made by the Local's members against the Fund. A union member who had a claim to make would notify Jacobs, at the Philadelphia office, who would send the member a hospitalization form to be completed by the claimant and returned to Jacobs. The completed form, with any relevant attachments, would then be forwarded by Jacobs to the Fund's central office in New Jersey. If the Fund accepted the claim it would send a check, made payable to the claimant, to Newman at the offices of Local 136. Jacobs or Mrs. DeAngelo then made a notation of the check, and forwarded it to the union member. Thus,

[ 440 Pa. Page 258]

    the only contact a member normally ever had with the Fund was through the Local 136 office in Philadelphia.

The injuries which form the basis of Farrell's claim against the Fund were incurred in an accident in Philadelphia on December 9, 1963. Farrell tried to settle his claim by the customary procedures, as outlined above, virtually all contacts being made through the Philadelphia office of Local 136. These attempts were unsuccessful, and he began the present action by filing a complaint against the Fund on January 9, 1968. On February 2, 1968, a copy of the complaint was served upon Mrs. DeAngelo at the Philadelphia office of Local 136, and, on April 30, 1968, the default judgment was ...


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