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HAYNES v. LEWIS

April 3, 1969

James O. Haynes, Plaintiff
v.
John L. Lewis et al., Defendants


Waddy, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WADDY

WADDY, D.J.:

 This is an action brought by the plaintiff, a retired mine worker, to compel the Trustees of the United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund to reinstate him as a beneficiary of that Fund and for payment of pension benefits that have allegedly accrued since his pension was terminated. At the trial before the Court without a jury the parties stipulated certain facts and to the admission in evidence of certain documents. They filed briefs in support of their respective positions and presented oral arguments.

 The United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund is an irrevocable trust created by the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1950 in accordance with the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, Section 302(c) (29 U.S.C. ยง 186(c)). The Trustees of the fund in accordance with the Trust Agreement, have full authority to establish retirement pensions, to establish eligibility requirements for such pensions, and to determine whether applicants for pensions meet the eligibility requirements, subject only to the stated purposes of the Fund, and to the provisions of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947.

 In accordance with their authority the Trustees have by resolution adopted regulations establishing the eligibility requirements for the granting of pensions upon retirement. As to this particular plaintiff, eligibility is governed by Trustees' Resolution 30 as amended by Trustees' Resolution 41. Among other eligibility criteria set forth in the amended Resolution are the following:

 
(1) An applicant shall be eligible for pension if he has:
 
* * *
 
1. Worked in a job classified in any National Coal Wage Agreement for an employer in the Coal Industry for a minimum of one-half the average number of days that the mines in the county or state in which he worked were active, whichever is the lesser, provided that where less than one-half the average number of days were worked, credit for service shall be given to the nearest one-fourth year.
 
* * * *
 
C. Retired from or ceased work in the Bituminous Coal Industry after May 28, 1946, following regular employment in a classified job and was regularly employed in a classified job in the Coal Industry immediately preceding May 29, 1946; provided that if he had retired from or ceased working in the Bituminous Coal Industry prior to May 29, 1946, he shall be eligible for a pension only upon the completion of twenty (20) years' service in the Bituminous Coal Industry, and meets the other requirements of eligibility as contained in Paragraphs A and B hereof and its subsections, subsequent to May 28, 1946.

 The plaintiff in this action was employed in the coal mines of eastern Kentucky for over 47 years. He filed an application for pension benefits in July, 1956. In his application he claimed 28 years of classified employment within the qualifying 30-year period. In December, 1957, defendant Trustees authorized plaintiff's pension and in January, 1958, plaintiff began receiving monthly payments. On August 19, 1960, defendants terminated plaintiff's pension on the ground that plaintiff had made substantial misstatements in his application for pension and that, by virtue of his employment as a section foreman from January 1935 to April 1938 and from October 1938 to December 1948, he had failed to meet the Fund's eligibility requirements of twenty years classified employment in the coal industry within the qualifying thirty-year period and regular employment in a classified job in the coal industry immediately prior to May 29, 1946. This result was based upon defendants' determination that the position of "section foreman" was not a "classified job" at the critical times within the meaning of Resolution No. 30, as amended by Resolution 41.

 The sole issue before this Court has been stipulated by parties as follows:

 
"Did the Trustees act in bad faith, arbitrarily or capriciously in terminating plaintiff's pension on August 19, 1960, which pension was previously authorized on December 30, 1957, on the grounds that he was employed as a section foreman from January 1935 to April 1938 and from October 1938 to December 1948, and therefore, did not meet the Trustees requirements of twenty (20) years classified employment in the coal industry within the qualifying thirty (30) year period and regular employment in a classified ...

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