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MAUREEN H. COOLEY v. EAST NORRITON TOWNSHIP ET AL. (10/19/83)

decided: October 19, 1983.

MAUREEN H. COOLEY, APPELLANT
v.
EAST NORRITON TOWNSHIP ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in the case of Maureen H. Cooley v. East Norriton Township and The Board of Supervisors, Alan R. Saydah, John B. Gourley, and Joseph C. Ronca, No. 81-3250.

COUNSEL

James J. Oliver, Wright, Manning & Sagendorph, for appellant.

Robert Redler, with him J. Edmund Mullin, Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin & Maxwell, for appellees.

Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 12]

This is an appeal by Maureen H. Cooley (appellant) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County sustaining preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer to appellant's complaint in assumpsit.

The pertinent facts of this case, as set forth in the appellant's complaint,*fn1 are as follows. The appellant is the widow of Augustine K. Cooley, who was employed

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 13]

    as a full-time police officer by East Norriton Township from May 1, 1961 to October 24, 1978. On that latter date, Officer Cooley died of causes unrelated to his duties as a policeman. During his tenure of approximately eighteen years with the police force, Officer Cooley was a member of the Township's police pension fund, the regulation and administration of which is governed by the provisions of East Norriton Township Ordinance No. 113.*fn2 Following the death of her husband, Mrs. Cooley applied to the Township Board of Supervisors for widow's benefits from the fund, but the Board denied her claim.

Thereafter, appellant instituted an action in assumpsit against the appellees, East Norriton Township and the Township Board of Supervisors. In response to her complaint, the appellees filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer, which, following argument, were sustained by order of the court below dated November 6, 1981. In its opinion filed in support of that order, the court interpreted the applicable provisions of Ordinance No. 113 and concluded that, on the merits, appellant was not entitled to payments from the police pension fund.*fn3 Mrs. Cooley's appeal from the court's decision sustaining the preliminary objections is now before us.

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 14]

In order to determine whether the trial court correctly concluded that appellant is not entitled to the benefits she seeks, and accordingly, whether it properly sustained appellees' preliminary objections, we must examine the following provisions of the ordinance. First, we turn to Section 1, which prescribes the criteria a policeman in the employ of the Township must meet in order to be eligible for retirement from the force, and, concomitantly, to be eligible for the receipt of pension benefits. Subsection A, concerning retirement by reason of age and service, provides in pertinent part:

Each policeman who is employed by East Norriton Township on a full time basis who shall have 25 years of aggregate service with the Township and who shall have attained 55 years of age shall be entitled to retire and to receive pension or retirement benefits as hereinafter provided. Any policeman who was a member of the police pension fund prior to December 21, 1965 who shall have 20 years of aggregate service with the Township and who shall have ...


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