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Crowley v. Retirement Board

OPINION FILED APRIL 5, 1979.

LAWRENCE J. CROWLEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE RETIREMENT BOARD OF THE MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES' ANNUITY AND BENEFIT FUND OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. LOUIS J. GILIBERTO, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Lawrence J. Crowley, filed this action in the circuit court of Cook County for administrative review of a final decision of the Retirement Board of the Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago (Retirement Board) denying plaintiff the right to pay for and receive service credit for his employment with the Chicago Rapid Transit Company (CRT). The trial court reversed the administrative decision and the Retirement Board appeals.

The question presented for review is whether section 8-230.1 of the Illinois Pension Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 108 1/2, par. 8-230.1) which provides that an otherwise qualified municipal employee may pay for and receive service credit for "services theretofore rendered by him to the Chicago Transit Authority [CTA]," applies to an employee who performed services for the CRT prior to and not after the creation of the CTA.

We reverse the judgment of the trial court and affirm the decision of the Retirement Board.

Plaintiff was employed by the CRT, a privately owned predecessor utility of the CTA, during the following periods of time: June 19, 1936, to November 1936; April 1, 1937, to April 1938; and August 8, 1938, to November 1942. The CTA was organized on October 1, 1947, pursuant to the "Metropolitan Transit Authority Act" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 111 2/3, pars. 301 through 344). Plaintiff performed no services for the CTA. Plaintiff later became employed as an electrical mechanic with the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and began participation in the Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago (the fund) on July 26, 1949.

On June 10, 1975, plaintiff informed the Retirement Board that, as a member of the fund, he desired to pay for and acquire service credit for his previous employment with the CRT and to have the credit applied in the computation of his annuity. Relying on section 8-230.1 of the Pension Code, the Retirement Board rendered a final decision on December 18, 1975, denying plaintiff the right to pay for and receive service credit for his CRT employment, because he had never been employed by the CTA which came into being after he terminated his employment with the CRT.

Upon administrative review, the trial court entered an order reversing the Retirement Board's decision and ordering that for purposes of all annuity and pension benefits, plaintiff be given credit for service rendered to the CRT. The final order states, in part:

"[T]he court finds and determines that the phrase `. . . service theretofore rendered by him to the Chicago Transit Authority created by the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act, approved April 12, 1945 . . .' in Section 8-230.1 of the Illinois Pension Code * * * does include all service rendered by plaintiff to the Chicago Rapid Transit Company which was a predecessor public utility of the Chicago Transit Authority * * *."

It is from this order that the Retirement Board appeals.

OPINION

Section 8-230.1 of the Illinois Pension Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 108 1/2, par. 8-230.1) states as follows:

"Any employee in the service, after having made contributions covering a period of ten or more years to the annuity and benefit fund herein provided for, may elect to pay for and receive credit for all annuity purposes for service theretofore rendered by him to the Chicago Transit Authority created by the `Metropolitan Transit Authority Act', approved April 12, 1945, as amended; provided, that the last five years of service prior to retirement on annuity shall have been as an employee of the City and a contributor to this Fund. Such service credit may be paid for and granted on the same basis and conditions as applicable in the case of employees who make payment for past service under the provisions of the immediately preceding Sec. 8-230, but on the assumption that such employee's salary throughout all of his service with such Authority was at the rate of his salary at the date of his entrance into the service as a municipal employee. In no event, however, shall such service be credited if such employee has not forfeited and relinquished pension credit for service covering such period under any pension or retirement plan applicable to such Authority and instituted and maintained by such Authority for the benefit of its employees." (Emphasis added.)

It is the Retirement Board's position that the emphasized language does not authorize the inclusion of credit for services rendered to the CRT, a privately owned public utility, in the computation of an annuity under the fund. Plaintiff contends that section 8-230.1, when read in conjunction with section 29 of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 111 2/3, par. 329), evidences a legislative intent to include credit for services rendered to the CRT as a predecessor utility of the CTA.

Section 29 of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act relates to the rights of employees transferred from predecessor transportation systems, ...


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