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McNevin v. Solvay Process Co.

53 N.Y.S. 98 (1898)

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McNevin v. Solvay Process Co.

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division

53 N.Y.S. 98 (1898)

Facts

James McNevin (plaintiff) was a former employee of Solvay Process Company (Solvay) (defendant). During McNevin’s employment, Solvay established a pension fund for the benefit of certain employees and prescribed rules for administering the fund. The fund’s purpose was to provide support if an employee could no longer work due to an accident, sickness, or advanced age. Solvay’s creation of the fund and deposits thereto were entirely voluntary. Participating employees were each assigned an account and provided with a passbook in which amounts allocated to the account were recorded. The passbooks also contained Solvay’s rules for the fund and a pledge, signed by the employee, to discharge his duties to the company loyally and faithfully. The rules specified that an employee could demand payment from his account only with Solvay’s approval. To manage the fund, Solvay appointed trustees who were empowered to resolve all questions concerning employees’ rights to the fund. The trustees’ decisions were final; employees had no right of appeal. Solvay dismissed McNevin with no explanation. McNevin later applied for payment of the amount shown in his passbook and appeared before the trustees, who voted not to remit the payment. McNevin brought a legal action to recover the amount allotted to him. The trial court entered judgment in favor of McNevin, and Solvay appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Follett, J.)

Dissent (Green, J.)

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