it to cash it, and that he did not read the statement when he indorsed the check.
It is settled law that a person who signs a contract without reading it or learning its contents is bound by its provisions. See Schoble v. Schoble, 349 Pa. 408, 411, 37 A.2d 604; Reed v. Kellerman, D.C., 40 F.Supp. 46, 50.
In order to set aside the printed release and the release embodied in the check, plaintiff bears the burden of proving by clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence, not merely by a preponderance of the evidence, that the releases are tainted with fraud or were entered into under a mutual mistake of fact. Schoble v. Schoble, supra; Callen v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 3 Cir., 162 F.2d 832, 833, affirmed 332 U.S. 625, 630, 68 S. Ct. 296, 92 L. Ed. 242; Restatement, Contracts §§ 502, 511.
Plaintiff's testimony regarding possible fraud in his signing the printed release was given too hesitantly and has too many inconsistencies to be clear, unequivocal and convincing. When confronted with defendant's testimony, a jury verdict in favor of plaintiff would at best, it seems to me, be based only upon a preponderance of the evidence, and not upon the clear and unequivocal evidence required by the law.
Moreover, plaintiff's own admissions refute any possibility of fraud when by his indorsement he accepted the contract of release embodied in the statement on the back of the $ 45 check immediately above his indorsement. Plaintiff's explanation that it all happened a few days after the accident is, to me, meaningless in view of the fact that he had voluntarily returned to work four days previously.
While it may be that there was sufficient evidence of fraud surrounding the signing of the printed release in order to take that issue to the jury, no fraud was perpetrated when plaintiff indorsed the check, and there was nothing for the jury to consider in this regard.
Thus, at least the release embodied in the check cannot be set aside on the ground of fraud.
Nor can the releases be avoided on the ground of mutual mistake of fact.
Plaintiff knew that he was being treated for a broken rib when he signed the printed release and when he indorsed the check. At those times he also had a pain in his chest. Therefore, he knew or had reason to know the extent of his injuries. If the claim agent was not informed of the treatment plaintiff was receiving, then there was no mutuality; but if the claim agent was so informed, there was no mistake of fact.
Even though plaintiff may have thought he was settling only the amount of his lost wages, the claim agent intended to settle plaintiff's entire claim for damages. Therefore, no mutuality is present in this respect.
Thus, there is no mutual mistake of fact upon which plaintiff can rely to avoid the releases.
By his indorsement of the $ 45 check, plaintiff accepted the conditions under which that check was issued -- a complete release or accord and satisfaction of an unliquidated dispute -- and he is bound by those conditions. Honeysett v. White Co., 104 Pa.Super. 535, 159 A. 207; Blaisdell Filtration Co. v. Bayard & Co., Inc., 311 Pa. 6, 166 A. 234; Restatement, Contracts Sec. 420; Williston, Contracts §§ 1854-1856 (Rev. Ed. 1938).
Accordingly, the question of setting aside the releases was improperly submitted to the jury, and defendant was entitled to a directed verdict.
It is now unnecessary for me to pass upon the merits of defendant's motion for a new trial.
Defendant's motion for a new trial is denied. Verdict and judgment thereon in favor of plaintiff is set aside. Defendant's motion for judgment in accordance with its motion for a directed verdict is granted.
An order may be submitted.