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MATTHEW SHIELDS v. C.D. JOHNSON MARINE SERVICE (04/04/85)

filed: April 4, 1985.

MATTHEW SHIELDS, JR., APPELLEE,
v.
C.D. JOHNSON MARINE SERVICE, INC., A CORPORATION, AND CHARLES D. JOHNSON, TRUSTEE AD LITEM FOR C.D. JOHNSON MARINE SERVICE, INC., RETIREMENT AND PROFIT SHARING PLANS, APPELLANTS



No. 898 Pittsburgh, 1983, Appeal from the Judgment entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil No. 82-199, Book 121, Page 359.

COUNSEL

Nancy Cusano, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

Philip P. Lope, Zelienople, for appellee.

Rowley, Olszewski and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Rowley

[ 342 Pa. Super. Page 502]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The issue presented by this appeal is whether the Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas have subject matter

[ 342 Pa. Super. Page 503]

    jurisdiction over appellee's claim that he is entitled to recover additional employee benefits under the retirement plans of his former employer, C.D. Johnson Marine Service, Inc., (Marine Service), based on Section 411(d)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 411(d)(3). The trial court assumed jurisdiction and entered judgment on the jury's verdict in favor of appellee, Matthew Shields, Jr. Because we have concluded that the trial court did not have jurisdiction, we reverse.

Appellee filed a complaint in assumpsit in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas on April 14, 1982. In Count I appellee sought payment of wages allegedly due pursuant to an oral employment contract, whereby appellee was to be paid a percentage of revenues generated by engineering and inspection services he provided to his employer's customers. In Count II appellee sought full payment of his "account balances" under the retirement plans maintained by Marine Service in which appellee participated while he was employed by it. Appellant's answer to the complaint denied the existence of an oral contract based on a percentage of gross revenues (Count I) and denied that appellant was entitled to his full account balances, asserting that he was only 70% vested in the plans (Count II). The trial in this case commenced on May 16, 1983 and resulted in a jury verdict in favor of appellee on both counts. Post-trial motions, argued before the court en banc, were denied and judgment was entered on the jury's verdict on June 27, 1983.

Appellant, Charles D. Johnson, Trustee Ad Litem for Marine Service Retirement and Profit Sharing Plans (Johnson) has appealed challenging only the judgment entered on the verdict on Count II of appellee's complaint. On appeal, appellant argues that state courts do not have subject matter jurisdiction over the claims set forth in Count II of appellee's complaint.*fn1 Because we find that this contention

[ 342 Pa. Super. Page 504]

    has merit, we do not address appellant's argument that the evidence presented was ...


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