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BURK v. LEWIS

February 28, 1968

Allen Burk, Plaintiff
v.
John L. Lewis et al., Defendants


Gesell, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GESELL

GESELL, D.J.:

Plaintiff, a retired coal miner, seeks judgment against the defendant Trustees for monthly pension payments, from April 1, 1953, to date, and an order directing that he be placed on the rolls of pension eligibility.

 It has been stipulated that the sole issue in the case is whether the defendant Trustees acted in bad faith, arbitrarily or capriciously in denying plaintiff's application for pension benefits on the ground that he did not meet all the eligibility requirements of Trustees' Resolution 10. The applicable provisions of that Resolution would make plaintiff eligible for a pension if he had "retired by permanently ceasing work in the Bituminous Coal Industry after May 28, 1946" and had "been employed for a period of at least one year . . . immediately preceding his retirement."* This is not a trial de novo. Rather, it is in the nature of review of a final administrative determination and the decision herein is based upon the record that was before the Trustees.

 Plaintiff argues that the administrative record compels the conclusion that he was employed by the Camp Creek Coal Company from October, 1951, until his retirement from the industry in November, 1952. In the alternative, plaintiff argues that he is entitled to a pension under Resolution 10 as that resolution has been interpreted in Danti v. Lewis, 114 U.S. App. D.C. 105, 312 F.2d 345 (1962).

 Defendants argue that there is substantial evidence to support their decision that plaintiff did not meet the requirements of Resolution 10 and that the Danti case, supra, is not controlling here.

 Both parties agree that in determining whether the Trustees acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner, this Court's function is to determine whether, as a matter of law, the Trustees' decision was supported by substantial evidence. Danti v. Lewis, 114 U.S. App. D.C. 105, 108, 312 F.2d 345, 348 (1962); Kosty v. Lewis, 115 U.S. App. D.C. 343, 346, 319 F.2d 744, 747 (1963); Miniard v. Lewis, 387 F.2d 864 No. 20,820 (U.S. App. D.C., December 19, 1967); Szuch v. Lewis, 193 F. Supp. 831, 832 (D.C.D.C. 1960); Kennet v. United Mine Workers of America, 183 F. Supp. 315, 318 (D.C.D.C. 1960).

 Substantial evidence has been defined as:

 
"enough to justify, if the trial were to a jury, a refusal to direct a verdict when the conclusion sought to be drawn from it is one of fact for the jury." Illinois C.R. Co. v. Norfolk & W.R. Co., 385 U.S. 57, 66, 17 L. Ed. 2d 162, 87 S. Ct. 255 (1966).

 The Supreme Court has also said that substantial evidence is:

 
"such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. . . . This is something less than the weight of the evidence, and the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency's finding from being supported by substantial evidence." Consolo v. Federal Maritime Commission, 383 U.S. 607, 619, 16 L. Ed. 2d 131, 86 S. Ct. 1018 (1965).

 The first issue before the Court, therefore, is whether there was substantial evidence to support the Trustees' conclusion that plaintiff did not work "one year in the Bituminous Coal Industry immediately prior to retirement."

 I.

 It is clear that the plaintiff retired in November, 1952. It is conceded that he did some work for the Camp Creek Coal Company between October 10, 1951, and March 20, 1952. It is conceded that he worked for several days later in 1952. Plaintiff claims to have worked until November ...


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