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Burdett v. Municipal Employees Pension Commission

Decided: September 18, 1942.

ZAIDA C. BURDETT, PROSECUTOR-APPELLANT,
v.
MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES PENSION COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



On appeal from the Supreme Court, whose opinion is reported in 127 N.J.L. 582.

For the appellant, Charles S. Smith.

For the respondent, Raymond Schroeder (Thomas M. Kane, of counsel).

Colie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

COLIE, J. Zaida C. Burdett, the present appellant and the prosecutor below, brings this appeal seeking to reverse a judgment of the Supreme Court dismissing a writ of certiorari theretofore allowed for the purpose of reviewing the refusal to her of a pension by the Municipal Employees Pension Commission of Newark.

The facts are undisputed. Oliver C. Burdett was an employee of the City of Newark when he married appellant, Zaida C. Burdett, in 1922. He was then fifty-five years of age. In 1933 he retired upon a pension after more than thirty years in the employ of the city, and died in 1941. At his death he was a member of the Municipal Employees Pension Association with all annual assessments or contributions fully paid.

The sole inquiry is as to the meaning and intent of R.S.

43:13-2 et seq. The right, if any, upon which the application for a pension rests is to be found in R.S. 43:13-4, that part of which pertinent to the present inquiry reads: "The widow * * * of a municipal employee who shall have * * * served in the employ of a city of the first class in the aggregate for twenty years, and who has paid into the fund the full amount of his annual assessments or contributions and who dies * * * shall receive a pension. * * * The pension so paid shall not exceed the sum of one thousand dollars annually. No pension shall be paid to a widow * * * if she * * * was married to her * * * deceased spouse after the date of * * * his retirement or after * * * he shall have reached fifty-five years of age."

The sole question for determination is whether the last quoted sentence from the statute is to be interpreted as prospective or retrospective in intent.

The legislative origin of the act with which we are now concerned is chapter 190, laws of 1927. Section 2 thereof reads in part: "no pension shall be paid to any widow or dependent husband if he or she was married to her deceased husband or his deceased wife after the date of his or her retirement and hereafter before he or she shall have arrived at the age of fifty-five years." By chapter 12, laws of 1932, there was an amendment of section 2, the amendment, so far as it affects the question now presented, reads: "no pension shall be paid to any widow or dependent husband if he or she was married to her deceased husband or his deceased wife after the date of his or her retirement and hereafter after he or she shall have arrived at the age of fifty-five years." In the Revision of 1937, R.S. 43:13-4 the wording was again altered and it now reads: "No pension shall be paid to a widow or dependent husband if she or he was married to her or his deceased spouse after the date of her or his retirement or after she or he shall have reached fifty-five years of age."

The above quoted provision of the statute is not free from doubt. Did the legislature intend that it should apply to situations prior to its ...


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