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Lugo v. Employees Retirement Fund of Illumination Products Industry

decided: January 14, 1976; As Amended April 21, 1976.

JUAN SANCHEZ LUGO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT FUND OF THE ILLUMINATION PRODUCTS INDUSTRY, CHARLES F. ROTH, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT FUND OF THE ILLUMINATION PRODUCTS INDUSTRY, AND KENNETH CEPPOS, SIMON GRAFSTEIN, LEONARD GOLUB, HANNIBAL IMBRO, JOHN H. KLIEGL II, EDWARD R. MURPHY, JERRY SCHNEIT, ROWLAND J. SIMES, MEYER TEITELBAUM, WALTER WEISS, ALBERT BAUER, SOL BERMAN, JOSEPH BONO, STEPHEN KANYOOSKY, KAREL MRNKA, JOHN SCIACCA, LOUIS STEIN, THOMAS VAN ARSDALE, HARRY VAN ARSDALE, JR., AND SANTOS ZAPPATA, AS TRUSTEES OF THE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT FUND OF THE ILLUMINATION PRODUCTS INDUSTRY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from dismissal by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, John R. Bartels, J., after bench trial, of complaint that pension fund's provisions violated section 302(c)(5) of the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5). Affirmed.

Feinberg, Gurfein and Van Graafeiland, Circuit Judges.

Author: Feinberg

FEINBERG, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff Juan Sanchez Lugo appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, John R. Bartels, J., dismissing his complaint against The Employees Retirement Fund of the Illumination Products Industry and the individual trustees of the Fund. After a bench trial, the judge held that Lugo had failed to establish that the Fund, when it denied his claim for a pension, was in violation of section 302(c)(5) of the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5).*fn1 We affirm the judgment of the district court.

I

Background

In April 1972, appellant had been continuously employed in the industry and a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union, Local No. 3, for over 16 years, and was a participant in the defendant Fund. Appellant, who was 49 at the time, felt he was physically unable to continue working at his job in the industry and applied for a disability pension. Lugo's application stated that he was "diabetic" and identified his physician as Dr. Simpson. With the application appellant apparently submitted a letter from the doctor, dated December 23, 1971, which stated:

To whom it may concern:

Mr. Sanchez [Lugo] is a patient at this office. He was found to have moderate elevation in his blood sugar.

An additional letter from the doctor, dated May 22, 1972, in support of the application, stated:

To whom it may concern:

The above named patient is being treated at this office for Diabetes Mellitus.

He is on oral hypoglycerine medications.

His condition is fair.

In May 1972, appellant was examined by physicians retained by the Fund and given various tests. Dr. W. T. Kriete, Medical Director of the Fund's Pension Committee, then reported that appellant "was found to have diabetes as well as a visual disturbance which is correctable by glasses. I do not consider this man disabled." At a meeting of the Fund's Pension Committee in September 1972, at which the results of the tests and the other written material were considered, appellant's application for a disability pension was denied on the ground that he was not in fact disabled.*fn2 Lugo was not given an opportunity to appear in person before the Committee.

Appellant claims that at about the same time, he also applied for standard pension benefits, which, under the labor agreement governing the Fund, would not ordinarily be available until age 60. ...


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