Appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County; the Hon.
WILLIAM G. EOVALDI, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.
Defendant, National Postal Transport Association, formerly United Federation of Postal Clerk's Benefit Association, appeals from the judgment of the Circuit Court of Franklin County in the amount of $4,000, entered upon a jury verdict in an action brought to recover permanent disability benefits. This court previously reversed a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, and remanded the cause for a new trial. Kirkpatrick v. United Federation of Postal Clerk's Benefit Ass'n, 52 Ill. App.2d 457, 202 N.E.2d 136.
Defendant is a fraternal beneficiary association whose membership is limited to regular and substitute employees of the United States Postal Transportation Service. On April 18, 1951, plaintiff, then employed as a substitute railway postal clerk, applied for membership in defendant's "Beneficiary Department," and on May 5, 1951, defendant issued to plaintiff its Beneficiary Department Certificate. The Certificate provided for the payment of weekly benefits in the event plaintiff suffered bodily injuries which wholly and continuously disabled him from following the occupation of a Postal Transportation Clerk in the Postal Transportation Service of the United States, as follows:
1. A sum of $24.50 per week for the first seven weeks, and $31.50 per week thereafter for such period as he may not be able to perform service as a Postal Transportation Clerk, or follow any other employment, but not exceeding fifty-two weeks from day of injury resulting through causes as aforesaid. The same to be paid as provided by the laws of this Association after the required proofs have been filed with the Secretary.
3. If said member during the continuance of this Certificate shall sustain through causes as aforesaid injuries that shall permanently disable and wholly incapacitate him from performing any labor, or following any occupation, he shall receive for such injury the sum of $24.50 per week, payable in monthly payments until the death of said member, or until the full amount of Certificate shall be paid; provided, however, that proof of permanent disability must be made in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and Laws of this Association.
The Certificate provided that the Constitution and By Laws of the Association, the Certificate, and other enumerated documents, comprise the agreement between the parties.
Article XVIII, of defendant's Constitution provides:
Section 1(c). "Any member of the benefit Association receiving injuries by accidental means alone, from violent external means, not the result of his own vicious or intemperate conduct, upon filing proper proof of disability on the official blanks of the Association, shall receive from the Benefit Fund of this Association a weekly benefit of Twenty-Four Dollars and Fifty Cents ($24.50) per week, for the first seven (7) weeks and Thirty-One Dollars and Fifty Cents ($31.50) per week thereafter, beginning on the day disability first arises, for such period as he may not be able to perform service as a postal employee or follow any other employment, but not exceeding fifty-two weeks from date of injury. In case of prolonged disability, partial payment of such benefits shall be allowed. Any member who has a recurrence of an injury within fifty-two weeks after original benefits have ceased, shall be entitled to continuing benefits under the original injury for such period as he may not be able to perform service, but not exceeding a total of fifty-two weeks."
In 1958 the following provision was added:
Section 1(d). "Benefits for injury to the back cannot exceed ninety days; except that benefits for herniated or ruptured discs may be compensated up to one hundred eighty days, and except that cases of traumatic fracture, parted or severed spinal cords shall not be subject to these limitations."
Section 2. "Any member of the Benefit Association who, during his membership, shall sustain by accidental means alone, as provided in Section 1 of this Article, such injuries as shall permanently disable and wholly incapacitate him from performing service as a postal employee or following any other employment, shall be entitled to and receive for such injury, the sum of Thirty-One Dollars and Fifty Cents ($31.50) per week, payable in monthly payments, until the death of said member or until the full amount of the certificate shall be paid, and when said amount has been tendered in full, the certificate of membership held by the member must be surrendered to the Association."
Section 2(b). "No Claim for total or permanent disability benefits shall be allowed unless based upon a report of a disinterested physician or physicians selected by the Benefit Association nor unless the member has completed proof of claim under Section 1, Article XVIII, of the Constitution and has drawn at least forty-two weeks' benefits under said Section. All claims for permanent disability, under this Section of the Constitution, shall be filed with the National Secretary through the President of the Branch or Local to which the member belongs. The Branch or Local President shall send the claim to the National Secretary. Such claims must be filed on the official blanks of the Association. Said application may be filed with the Branch or Local President any time after the expiration of the aforementioned forty-two weeks benefit, but not later than ninety days from the termination of the fifty-two weeks period from date injuries were sustained which caused the disability."
Section 4. "After the claim for disability or death has been completed and filed with the Secretary of the Association, it shall then be passed upon by a Committee on Claims. Upon the approval of a weekly benefit claim by the Secretary or the Committee on Claims an order shall be drawn on the Secretary to pay said claim, and the order shall be signed by the President and the amount remitted to the certificate holder."
Section 8. "No subordinate body of this Association, nor any officer or member thereof, shall have the power or right to waive or modify, any provisions of this constitution or of the contract, and no custom or course of dealing upon the part of such body or person shall have the effect of ...