Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, March T., 1970, No. 3925, in case of Katherine Boyle v. Philadelphia Police Widows' Pension Fund Association.
David I. Grunfeld, with him Steinberg, Greenstein, Richman & Price, for appellant.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Cercone, J.
[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 232]
This appeal is presented to us on an agreed statement of facts as follows
Frank A. Boyle was, at the time of his death on January 26, 1954, a member of the Philadelphia Police Department and a member in good standing of the Philadelphia Police Widows' Pension Fund Association, a non-profit corporation. During his lifetime he had designated his wife as beneficiary of the benefits payable from the Fund in the event he pre-deceased her. The plaintiff, Katherine L. Boyle, having established herself as the widow of Frank A. Boyle, began receiving her monthly benefits in February, 1954. Those monthly payments continued until her marriage to one Lawrence Benjamin McCoy at Hayward, California, on September 17, 1967, at which time the payments were properly terminated.
However, on February 5, 1969, on plaintiff's application, her marriage to Lawrence McCoy was annulled by decree of the Superior Court for the State of California,
[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 233]
County of Alameda, on the ground of fraud.*fn1 The decree also upheld as binding a property settlement agreement entered into between plaintiff and McCoy on June 4, 1968, and, in addition, restored to plaintiff her first marriage name, Katherine Lee Boyle.
After the entry of the decree annulling her marriage to McCoy, plaintiff sought the resumption of the pension payments due her as the widow of Frank A. Boyle. The Association, however, denied her right to such further payment, relying on Article IV, Section 1 of the By-Laws of the Association providing that "She (the widow) shall receive said pension during her natural life or until she remarries ". This suit followed, raising the question: Did the decree of annulment render the remarriage null and void so as to restore the plaintiff to her rights as widow of her first husband. The court below held it did not, relying on the decision of the California Supreme Court in Sefton v. Sefton, 45 Cal. 2d 872, 291 P. 2d 439 (1955),*fn2 wherein the court denied the wife the right to a resumption of alimony payments from her first husband after her intervening marriage had been declared null and void.
It is our determination in this appeal by plaintiff that the court below erred in applying the ruling of Sefton v. Sefton, supra, for the basis of that decision was, "The divorced spouse, the defendant here, may never know of the circumstances which make his former wife's new marriage voidable . . . After the ceremony [of the new marriage] took place he could properly assume . . . that his obligation to pay alimony had ceased. He was then entitled to recommit his ...