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07/26/83 Marvin Biliter, v. United Mine Workers of

July 26, 1983

MARVIN BILITER, APPELLANT

v.

UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA 1950 PENSION TRUST AND 1950 BENEFIT PLAN AND TRUST



UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 1983.CDC.198

APPELLATE PANEL:

Wald and Ginsburg, Circuit Judges, Van Pelt,* Senior District Judge for Nebraska. Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge Ginsburg.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE GINSBURG

This case, concerning a bituminous coal miner's eligibility for a pension, centers on the "controlled company" exception to the United Mine Workers of America 1950 Pension Trust (Pension Plan). Marvin Biliter, a retired coal miner, sought district court review of the denial of his pension application by the Trustees of the Pension Plan. The same Trustees serve the UMWA 1950 [Health] Benefit Plan and Trust (Benefit Plan). In response to the Trustees' motion for summary judgment, the district court affirmed the decision denying Biliter pension benefits. Biliter appeals from that judgment. We reverse and remand. I. BACKGROUND

A. Pension Eligibility Requirements

A Pension Plan "participant" is eligible for lifetime benefits if he stopped performing "classified work" (i.e., a job covered by the collective bargaining agreement) before 1976, has attained the age of fifty-five, and has completed twenty years of "credited service." Exhibits to Plaintiff's Motions #10 at 6 (Pension Plan Para. II.B.). Paragraph IV.A(1) of the Pension Plan states that an employee receives credit

for a year of service for any calendar year in which he worked, subsequent to December 31, 1936, as an employee in a job classified in the then existing bituminous coal wage agreement for an employer in the coal industry for at least 1,000 hours of service, with credit given for the next lowest 1/4 year in the event any employee works less than 1,000 hours of service as follows:

750 - 999 hours, 3/4 year

500 - 749 hours, 1/2 year

250 - 499 hours, 1/4 year

249 hours or less, 0

For a miner in Biliter's situation, one who retired before 1976 and reached age fifty-five in 1979, the twenty years of credited service must include at least eight years of "signatory service," which refers to periods "during which a participant worked, after May 28, 1946, as an employee in a classified job for an Employer signatory to the bituminous coal wage agreement then in effect." Pension Plan Paras. II.B. & IV.B.(2). With two exceptions, however, no service credit is gained for

any period in which a participant "was directly connected with the ownership, operation or management of a mine." Pension Plan Para. IV.C. The first, or "gangwork," exception is not relevant to Biliter's claim. The ...


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