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COHEN v. SABIN (07/02/73)

decided: July 2, 1973.

COHEN, APPELLANT,
v.
SABIN



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Dec. T., 1967, No. 817, in re Raymond Cohen v. Albert Sabin et al., Constituting the Retirement Committee Under the Retirement Trust of Teamsters Joint Council No. 53.

COUNSEL

Walter W. Rabin, with him Meltzer and Schiffrin, for appellant.

Edward Davis, with him Davis, Casper & Muller, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Manderino filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Roberts

[ 452 Pa. Page 449]

Appellant, Raymond Cohen, was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Highway Truck Drivers and Helpers Local 107 from June, 1954, until his retirement in September, 1963. As an employee (since 1933) and officer of the union appellant was eligible, upon retirement, to receive a pension provided by the Teamsters Joint Council No. 53 Retirement Trust. This Trust was established on June 1, 1948, and administered by the appellee, Retirement Committee. Each individual participant in the Retirement Trust contributed five percent of his annual salary to the pension fund, while the union contributed ten percent of the same amount. As of the date of appellant's retirement he was entitled to receive a pension equaling 50 percent of his average monthly salary in the highest five consecutive years of the last ten years immediately preceding his retirement.

The record establishes that prior to January 3, 1960, appellant's annual salary from Local 107 was $25,000. On that date, the union, at a general meeting adopted a resolution granting appellant an annual take home pay of $25,000, "free and clear of taxes," as well as a tax free expense account of at least $100.00 per week.*fn1 Appellant was paid this "tax free" salary from

[ 452 Pa. Page 450]

    the date of this resolution until his retirement in September, 1963.

On October 28, 1963, after proper notice to appellant, the appellee, Retirement Committee held a meeting to secure information regarding appellant's salary. At this meeting appellant made a written application for a pension. Pursuant to this meeting appellant's pension application was unanimously approved based upon an annual salary of $25,000. At that time appellant expressed complete agreement with the Retirement Committee's determination.

Approximately two and a half years later, on May 2, 1966, appellant applied to the Retirement Committee for an increase in his pension. At that time he argued that his pension should have been based on a salary of approximately $41,000 -- the amount necessary to result in an after tax salary of $25,000. This request was denied on June 14, 1966. Two subsequent requests for an increase were also denied. Thereupon on December 13, 1967, appellant filed a complaint in equity seeking to compel the Retirement Committee to pay him the requested pension increase, from the date of his retirement in 1963.

Following an evidentiary hearing, the chancellor filed an adjudication containing findings of fact and conclusions of law, and entered a Decree Nisi dismissing appellant's complaint. Appellant's timely filed exceptions were heard and denied by the court en banc, and the Decree Nisi was made ...


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