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MARGARET E. KLINE v. JOSEPH MULLINS (08/09/78)

decided: August 9, 1978.

MARGARET E. KLINE, APPELLANT
v.
JOSEPH MULLINS, DONALD C. RAUB AND EUGENE A. WIEAND, TRUSTEES OF THE MUNICIPAL POLICE PENSION FUND OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WHITEHALL, APPELLEES. ROBERT P. HEFFELFINGER, APPELLANT V. JOSEPH MULLINS, DONALD C. RAUB AND EUGENE A. WIEAND, TRUSTEES OF THE MUNICIPAL POLICE PENSION FUND OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WHITEHALL, APPELLEES



Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in cases of Margaret E. Kline v. Joseph Mullins, Donald C. Raub and Eugene A. Wieand, Trustees of the Municipal Police Pension Fund of the Township of Whitehall, No. 296 June Term, 1971; and Robert P. Heffelfinger v. Joseph Mullins, Donald C. Raub and Eugene A. Wieand, Trustees of the Municipal Police Pension Fund of the Township of Whitehall, No. 667 April Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

Robert Long, with him William H. Eckensberger, Jr., and Buss & Eckensberger, for appellants.

Harry A. Kitey, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and DiSalle. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 165]

These consolidated appeals have been brought by appellants, Margaret E. Kline and Robert P. Heffelfinger, from a denial by the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas of their asserted entitlement to "severance benefit" payments purportedly available to them under the municipal pension fund of Whitehall Township (Township).

The appellant at No. 199 C.D. 1977, Margaret E. Kline, is the widow of a deceased Township policeman who died in 1965 while still on active duty in the Township's police force, and who had been, since 1958, a member of the Police Pension Fund.

The appellant at No. 200 C.D. 1977, Robert P. Heffelfinger, is a retired Township police officer, who, upon retirement, was also a member of the Police Pension Fund.

Both claims are premised upon subsection D of Section IX of the Township's Police Pension Ordinance; which section addresses specifically the role of severance benefits in Whitehall's overall Pension Plan:

D. Severance Benefits. A severance benefit, equal to the total of a member's contributions as provided in Section XI, plus an amount equal to five (5%) percent of his compensation at the time of his severance multiplied by the number of years of his employment to a maximum of twenty (20) years, shall be payable to a severed member, or to his beneficiary under the provisions

[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 166]

    of Section IX, C., upon his termination of employment for any reason whatsoever.

It is the contention of appellants that death and retirement fall within the meaning of severance "for any reason whatsoever." Though closely related, if not identical, legal issues are presented by the two appeals, for reasons which ...


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