Frank A. Orban, Jr., Somerset, Tillman K. Saylor, Jr., Spence, Custer, Saylor & Wolfe, Johnstown, for appellants.
Harry Lazier, Hyman Borovetz, Pittsburgh, R. Meade Stineman, Johnstown, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Reno, Dithrich, Ross, and Fine, JJ.
[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 190]
Plaintiff appellee sued in assumpsit on a written contract of employment. He had an employment contract as controller with defendant appellants, partners trading as Rankin Coal Company. He was employed October 14, 1947, 'for and during the balance of the term of the partnership,' which was to end and be fully terminated on December 31, 1951. (Emphasis added.)
The partnership was dissolved as of June 1, 1948, for the purpose of forming a corporation, and appellee was discharged as of that date. He contends that his discharge was in violation of his contract of employment which could not be terminated, except for cause, prior to December 31, 1951.
It is appellants' contention that appellee was to be employed as controller only so long as the partnership should be in existence. They averred, as an additional defense, that he did not keep proper records and frequently
[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 191]
denied the partners the right to inspect the books and records at reasonable times.
The jury found for appellee and from the refusal of their motions for judgment n. o. v. and a new trial appellants have brought this appeal.
The long-established applicable law is clearly set forth in Fereira v. Sayres, 5 Watts & S. 210, 40 Am.Dec. 496, and Johnson v. Judge, 16 Pa. Super. 137. Each of those cases involved the dissolution of a partnership by the death of a partner, and in each it was held that such dissolution would not terminate a contract of employment of an agent previously made for a fixed term. The analogy between a partnership which is dissolved by the death of a partner, reformed, and the business carried on by the surviving or additional partners, and a partnership which is dissolved for the purpose of forming a corporation to carry on the same business appears to our minds to be abundantly clear and controlling.
Appellants, however, attempt to distinguish their case from the ruling cases on the ground that here the hiring was 'for the balance of the duration of the partnership,' notwithstanding the clear and unambiguous language of the contract that it was 'for and ...