Appeal, No. 236, Jan. T., 1950, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 4 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1944, No. 2614, in case of Eugene Jordan v. The Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada. Non-suit vacated and judgment entered for defendant; reargument refused March 5, 1951.
Sabato M. Bendiner, with him Frank W. Hatfield and Busser & Bendiner, for appellant.
Francis T. Anderson, with him Gray, Anderson, Schaffer & Rome, for appellee.
Before Drew, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE DREW
In this action in assumpsit we are concerned with an alleged oral agreement between Eugene Jordan, plaintiff, and The Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada., defendant. Plaintiff claims that this agreement was entered into prior to his submitting in writing his resignation as manager of defendant's Philadelphia office. The learned court below entered a non-suit on the ground that the parol evidence rule prevented proof of the alleged oral contract. From an order refusing to remove the non-suit, plaintiff brought this appeal.
On July 6, 1923, plaintiff entered into three written agreements with defendant, the first of which provided that in return for plaintiff's services as branch manager, defendant would pay him a salary based on the amount of business handled through his office. The other agreements were supplementary to the first, one providing for a bonus based on the amount of new business for the year and the other providing for a pension upon reaching the age of sixty. Plaintiff served
under these agreements until November 25, 1938. At that time he was called into a meeting with several of defendant's officers and confronted with notes payable to various banks in the sum of $87,500 on which plaintiff was either the primary obligor or was acting as surety for his agents. Plaintiff after some discussion, offered his letter of resignation which stated, in part: "It is my desire that all contracts or supplemental contracts of any nature whatsoever now existing between myself and your company shall be cancelled as of this date." That resignation was accepted by defendant.
Plaintiff's suit is based on an alleged oral agreement which was reached at this meeting prior to his submitting his resignation. He testified that defendant agreed to settle the outstanding debts and also to pay plaintiff a pension as provided under the pension agreement on the same basis as if he had become totally incapacitated. After the written resignation was introduced into evidence a motion to strike the oral testimony was granted as was defendant's motion for non-suit. It is those rulings which plaintiff here contends were erroneous.
Plaintiff first argues that the terms of the letter apply only to the written contracts and not to the oral agreement. However, the language of the letter that "all contracts... of any nature whatsoever now existing... shall be cancelled" makes unnecessary serious consideration of that point. The narrow construction sought by plaintiff would require a flagrant distortion of the express language of the letter of resignation.
Likewise we may dispose of the contention that the letter of resignation was not a contract because it lacked consideration and therefore, the parol evidence rule is not applicable. Defendant had the right ...