Louis Marion, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Thomas Ebert, Knox Henderson, and Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, and of Philadelphia, for appellees.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross, Arnold and Gunther, JJ.
[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 90]
In this proceeding to quiet title the lower court found that the defendant's judgment was not a lien on the plaintiffs' land. The adjudication to that effect will be affirmed.
The property in question, referred to as 5539 Florence Avenue in Philadelphia, was conveyed to Abraham and Edith Wagner, husband and wife, in 1946 by the then owner. On March 9, 1949, a judgment note for $2,000 executed by Albert Wagner, Edith Wagner, Benjamin Wagner and Dorothy Wagner, was delivered to Lewen Pizor as payee. Judgment on the note was entered of record in Philadelphia County by confession on May 24, 1949, and the judgment was indexed against each of the above four makers as their names appeared on the note. On March 9, 1950, Pizor assigned his judgment to George Shapiro, defendant in the present action. On April 24, 1950, Abraham Wagner and Edith Wagner his wife conveyed the premises to the plaintiffs. There is evidence which appears to be sufficient (though questioned by the lower court) that Abraham and Albert Wagner are one and the same person, and we will take it as established that they are. Abraham under the name of Albert Wagner conducted a delicatessen store in Philadelphia as a partner with his brother Benjamin Wagner.
[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 91]
The plaintiffs on taking title to the property raised $5,500 of the purchase price by a mortgage given by them to Mortgage Association, Inc., which was entered of record on February 28, 1950. Subsequently, the defendant notified plaintiff of his judgment and of his intention to look to them for payment. He asserted that his judgment was a lien on their land senior to that of the above mortgage. Thereupon plaintiffs brought this action to put the question at rest.
The Act of March 29, 1827, P.L., 154, § 3, 17 P.S. § 1903 requires the prothonotary to keep a judgment docket and Section 3 of the Act of April 22, 1856, P.L. 532, 17 P.S. § 1922, provides for the indexing of a judgment by the prothonotary to operate as a lien as to subsequent purchasers of the land. The purpose of the Acts is to give notice of the judgment to subsequent purchasers and all others in interest. But actual notice of a judgment, however defectively entered or indexed, if had by a purchaser before his interest attaches is as effectual as to him as is the constructive notice given by the judgment docket. Coral Gables, Inc., v. Kerl, 334 Pa. 441, 443, 6 A.2d 275, 122 A.L.R. 903. 'Even a party entitled to notice from the judgment docket may receive it from some other source and be bound * * * actual notice to such party before his interest attaches affects him': Hickman's Estate, 40 Pa. Super. 244.
The plaintiffs in the present case did not have actual notice of defendant's judgment and the single question therefore is whether they are chargeable with constructive notice of a judgment as a lien on the land of Abraham and Edith Wagner by the entry and indexing of a judgment against Albert and Edith Wagner. 'Proof that brings home knowledge of a fact to a person, if he will but use his senses and reasoning faculties, is in a great variety of cases held to be sufficient to affect him with notice'. And this common sense principle applies to disputes as to the existence or priority of
[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 92]
judgment liens. Butts v. Cruttenden, 14 Pa. Super. 449, 456. In Coral Gables, Inc., v. Kerl, supra, 334 Pa. at page 447, 6 A.2d at page 278, it is said: 'The sole function of a name is to identify the person whom it is intended to designate, and therefore all that is legally necessary in the docketing and indexing of judgments is that the defendant should be individuated with a degree of accuracy sufficient either to lead a reasonably careful searcher to conclude that he is the person who is the object of the search, or to suggest to the searcher the wisdom of inquiry to ascertain the fact. Where there is enough to put an ordinarily prudent person ...