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CRAWFORD v. PITUCH (11/13/51)

November 13, 1951

CRAWFORD, APPELLANT,
v.
PITUCH



Appeal, No. 136, March T., 1951, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, May T., 1950, No. 413, in case of Joseph S. Crawford et ux., v. John Pituch et ux. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Henry C. Baur, for appellants.

Gerald J. Weber, pro hac vice, for appellees.

Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 368 Pa. Page 490]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

The plaintiffs sued in trespass for deceit for an alleged misstatement of material fact knowingly made by the defendants for the purpose of having the plaintiff's rely upon it which they did to their pecuniary damage. The court below sustained preliminary objections to the complaint and entered judgment for the defendants from which the plaintiffs brought this appeal.

By deed recorded July 18, 1947, the defendants became the owners of a property in Erie, Pennsylvania,

[ 368 Pa. Page 491]

    which contained an apartment whereof the plaintiffs were and, continuously from May 1, 1925, had been the tenants under a written lease. The lease, which was for a specified term of one year, was automatically renewed annually thereafter under the provisions of its hold-over clause. On May 28, 1948, the defendants gave the plaintiffs written notice of their avowed desire to possess themselves of the property "for their own use and occupancy" and, therewith, demanded that the plaintiffs quit and surrender up possession of the premises within sixty days of receipt of the notice. The plaintiffs refused to vacate on the ground that, under the law of Pennsylvania, a cognate notice three months prior to the expiration of the current year's term was required to terminate the tenancy. The defendants thereupon instituted eviction proceedings against the plaintiffs before an alderman who gave judgment for the tenants. This effort to evict was not pursued further. Several months later, to wit, on January 11, 1949, the defendants again notified the plaintiffs in writing that they desired the apartment "for their own use and occupancy" and demanded that the tenants quit and surrender up possession of the premises on May 1, 1949, i.e., on the termination date of the yearly term. The plaintiffs, assuming the good faith of the defendants' statement of intention to occupy the apartment themselves and in reliance thereon, vacated as the notice called upon them to do. However, the defendants did not move into the apartment but forthwith rented it to a third person at a higher rental.

The plaintiffs aver in their complaint that the defendants did not require possession of the apartment for their own use and occupancy, that they had no intention of occupying it, that they fraudulently and maliciously made the false statement in such connection in violation of the applicable Federal Housing and Rent Act of 1947 as amended by the Act of 1948, 50 U.S.C.A.

[ 368 Pa. Page 492]

Appendix ยง 1881 et seq.,*fn1 in order wrongfully to induce the plaintiffs' vacation of the premises, that in reliance upon the defendants' false statement, the plaintiffs did vacate, and ...


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