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GERALD E. MARCINAK v. SOUTHEASTERN GREENE SCHOOL DISTRICT (04/14/88)

argued: April 14, 1988.

GERALD E. MARCINAK, APPELLANT,
v.
SOUTHEASTERN GREENE SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order Entered September 11, 1987 in the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County, Civil Division, at A.D. No. 306 of 1986.

COUNSEL

Gary D. Monaghan, Uniontown, for appellant.

John A. Stets, Public Defender, Waynesburg, for appellee.

Rowley, Del Sole and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Montgomery

[ 375 Pa. Super. Page 488]

The Plaintiff-Appellant, Gerald Marcinak, instituted the instant action seeking the payment of a retirement benefit which he alleged he was entitled to pursuant to the terms of an employment contract between himself and the Appellee Southeastern Greene School District. The employment contract applied to the Appellant's position as Superintendent of the District for a three year term. The dispute was heard before the trial court, sitting without a jury. It determined that the Appellant was not entitled to the retirement benefit he sought.

The Appellant contends that the trial court erred in construing the contract between the parties. He maintains that his agreement with the Appellee mandated a payment of a retirement incentive benefit. The Appellant also argues that if the contract of employment contained doubtful or ambiguous language, the trial court erred by failing to construe it against the Appellee, which drafted it.

The record shows that the Appellant, who had been an employee of the Appellee School District for over twenty

[ 375 Pa. Super. Page 489]

    years prior to that time, was retained as the Superintendent of the District in early 1982, for a three year term. His employment contract, a three page document, does not specifically indicate when it was signed by the Appellant and a representative of the Appellee. However, it makes reference to the hiring of the Appellant for the position at a special monthly meeting of the Board of Education of the Appellee, held on January 27, 1982. Further, it declares that the specific term of employment was for three years, commencing July 1, 1982. Particularly relevant in this case is the following provision of the employment agreement:

That the Board shall provide the Superintendent during this Contract, all benefits as accrued and as accorded and equal to those provided the members of the professional staff. Such benefits shall include Blue Cross and Blue Shield coverages, as well as personal and emergency days, tuition and other payments granted during the life or term of this Contract. Earned sick leave is to be pro-rated in accordance with that earned by the teaching staff. A vacation of one month will be granted annually.

The specific retirement benefit sought by the Appellant in this action is provided for in a separate labor agreement between the Appellee School District and the employee association which represented the teaching employees of the School District. That collective bargaining agreement, which by its terms was effective from September 1, 1982 until August 31, 1985, provided, in Article XXI, entitled "Retirement Incentive Program", for the following retirement benefit payments:

Any employee, having completed 25 years of service or having attained 55 years of age with the most recent ten (10) years of consecutive service performed in the Southeastern Greene School District, shall be ...


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