Butler v. Minneapolis Police Relief Ass'n

Decision Date14 March 1969
Docket NumberNo. 41257,41257
Citation283 Minn. 70,166 N.W.2d 705
PartiesFlorence M. BUTLER, Appellant, v. MINNEAPOLIS POLICE RELIEF ASSOCIATION, Respondent.
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

1. Where a husband and wife had lived apart by mutual consent for about 8 2. Where a surviving widow was notified by letter dated February 14, 1957, that her application for a widow's pension had been denied by the Minneapolis Police Relief Association upon the ground that she failed to qualify for benefits in any amount, an action to recover such benefits, instituted October 27, 1964, was barred by the applicable statute of limitations, Minn.St. 541.05, which requires that proceedings of this type be commenced within 6 years from the time the cause of action accrues.

years before his death on January 14, 1957, the surviving wife was not 'residing with' her husband at the time of his death. She was not, therefore, entitled to benefits from the Minneapolis Policemen's Pension Fund established pursuant to L.1953, c. 127, § 6.

Sydney Berde, St. Paul, for appellant.

Glenn D. McCarty, Minneapolis, for respondent.



SHERAN, Justice.

Appeal from an order granting defendant's motion for involuntary dismissal and the judgment entered pursuant thereto and from an order denying plaintiff's motion for a new trial.

Plaintiff, Florence M. Butler, is the widow of William C. Butler, who had been employed for 31 years by the Minneapolis Police Department at the time of his death on January 14, 1957. On January 21, 1957, plaintiff made written application to defendant association for the widow's pension provided for by L.1953, c. 127, § 6, 1 and Article X, Section 2, of defendant's bylaws. 2 She renewed her request on February 4, 1957. Approximately 2 weeks later defendant, in a letter dated February 14, 1957, denied the application on the grounds that (1) at the time of his death and for some years prior thereto plaintiff and her husband had been 'living apart'; (2) he did not contribute to her support; and (3) she was not dependent on him for support. No further action was taken by plaintiff until the present action was commenced on October 27, 1964.

To establish her right to pension benefits, plaintiff must meet and comply with the terms, conditions, and requirements established by L.1953, c. 127, § 6, and defendant association's articles of incorporation and bylaws as they existed on January 14, 1957, the date her husband died.

'* * * That the law in force when the claim to pension arises governs the right to the pension is settled by Gibbs v. Minneapolis Fire Department Relief Assn., 125 Minn. 174, 145 N.W. 1075, Ann.Cas.1915C, 749.' State ex rel. Krake v. Minneapolis Fire Dept. Relief Assn., 205 Minn. 54, 55, 284 N.W. 884, 885.

1. In our opinion, plaintiff was not 'residing with' her husband at the time of his death.

William Butler and plaintiff were married on August 1, 1928, in Minneapolis. They lived together as man and wife from the time of their marriage until late 1935 or early 1936, when Mr. Butler left the marital residence to live at the home of his mother. In the fall of 1937 plaintiff and Mr. Butler commenced living together again and continued to do so for approximately 12 years until March 1949, when Mr. Butler again removed himself from the home. From March 1949 to the date of his death, Mr. Butler stayed with his mother at 1810 Newton Avenue North, Minneapolis, and plaintiff resided at 4414 17th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

State ex rel. Livingston v. Minneapolis Fire Dept. Relief Assn., 205 Minn. 204, 285 N.W. 479, dealt with a similar problem. In that case Livingston, retired on pension from the Minneapolis Fire Department, died. His surviving wife applied for a pension. She and Livingston had lived together as husband and wife from the time of their marriage until a few months after his retirement--a period of about 23 years. Then, in 1913, Livingston left the marital domicile. He died on January 10, 1936. The parties stipulated that at the time of his death Livingston was not residing with the applicant for the widow's pension. This court there stated (205 Minn. 206, 285 N.W. 480):

'* * * That she was residing with him at the time of his death is the only matter in dispute, and the facts with respect thereto are settled by the stipulation of the parties that she did not reside with him at that time. The only question then is what effect, if any, does that have on her right to a pension. * * * Under the 1913 statute, a wife who had not deserted her husband pensioner was entitled to a pension. That definition was abandoned. The 1933 law has adopted a definition which requires that the wife reside with the pensioner at the time of his death. The language of the statute, 'that when a service pensioner * * * dies, leaving, a widow, who was his legally married wife, residing with him,' is plain that the wife must have resided with the fireman pensioner at the time of his death. The change in the statute was adopted as a matter of legislative...

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10 cases
  • Peterson v. Fire and Police Pension Ass'n
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • July 18, 1988
    ...233, 102 S.E.2d 923 (1958); Branson v. Firemen's Retirement Fund, 79 Idaho 167, 312 P.2d 1037 (1957); Butler v. Minneapolis Police Relief Ass'n, 283 Minn. 70, 166 N.W.2d 705 (1969). Accordingly, we hold that prior to a police officer's or fire fighter's death, there is limited or partial ve......
  • Jacobson v. Bd. of Trustees
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals
    • May 29, 2001
    ...that their contract claims did not accrue until they retired and applied for pension benefits, citing Butler v. Minneapolis Police Relief Ass'n, 283 Minn. 70, 166 N.W.2d 705 (1969). We disagree. Butler involved a claim to receive pension benefits under statutes existing at the time the plai......
  • Thornberg v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Minnesota
    • November 19, 2014
    ...commenced." Leisure Dynamics, Inc. v. Falstaff Brewing Corp., 298 N.W.2d 33, 37 (Minn. 1980) (citing Butler v. Minneapolis Police Relief Ass'n, 283 Minn. 70, 74, 166 N.W.2d 705, 707 (1969). As mentioned, Plaintiff asserts that the property items which he claims to have been taken disappeare......
  • Axelson v. Minneapolis Teachers' Retirement Fund Ass'n, C8-94-2153
    • United States
    • Minnesota Court of Appeals
    • June 6, 1995
    ...is without merit; the law in effect at the time the pension claim arises governs the pension right. Butler v. Minneapolis Police Relief Ass'n, 283 Minn. 70, 72, 166 N.W.2d 705, 706 (1969); accord Kelley, 390 N.W.2d at 396. In any event, Minnesota statutes and the MTRFA's articles of incorpo......
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