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ANDRIKANICS v. ANDRIKANICS (06/24/52)

June 24, 1952

ANDRIKANICS, APPELLANT,
v.
ANDRIKANICS



Appeal, No. 89, March T., 1950, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1948, No. 285, in case of Majk Andrikanics et ux. v. Steve Andrekanics, et al. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Armin H. Friedman, with him Robert E. Kline and Albert D. Brandon, for appellants.

H. I. Hoffman, with him Hoffman & Hester, for appellees.

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

Author: Stearne

[ 371 Pa. Page 223]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

The appeal is from a decree in equity dismissing a bill of complaint to set aside a deed executed by a father to his five children, who were the issue of his first marriage. Approximately two weeks after the execution and delivery of the deed the father remarried. The action against the children is by the father and his second wife.

The testimony is conflicting. The issue is one solely of fact. Plaintiffs allege that the deed was obtained through fraud and deceit of two of the sons. Defendants maintain that the grant was a voluntary one by the father, who was fully aware of the nature and effect of the conveyance.

[ 371 Pa. Page 224]

Judge Soffel, the able and experienced chancellor, heard the case and filed findings of fact and conclusions of law. Succinctly stated, she found that the father, who was sixty-three years of age, illiterate but with full knowledge and understanding, informed the children living with him that he was about to remarry but that he and his wife proposed to live at her home and that he would deed his home to them; that in pursuance to such statement, the father with two of his sons went to the office of his attorney, taking with him his deed, and directed his lawyer to prepare a deed for the property to his five children; the lawyer secured the necessary title information from the father but inquired concerning the advisability of deeding the property to the children, since the lawyer had prepared a will for the father shortly before, making the same disposition; the father explained to the lawyer that "he talked the matter over with his intended wife and that she was not interested in his property, as she had her own home, and he was going to live with her at her home". The deed was duly prepared, was read and explained to the father, and he then executed and acknowledged it before an alderman. The instrument was thereafter delivered and recorded.

The chancellor, since she found the facts in defendants' favor, manifestly believed defendants and their witnesses, but did not believe the testimony of plaintiffs, viz.: that the two sons caused their father to become intoxicated and fraudulently induced him to execute the deed. An appellate court will never substitute its own findings of fact, where the hearing judge's findings are sufficiently supported by the evidence and approved by the court in banc. Such findings have the same weight as the verdict of a jury: Eichman v. Hersker, 170 Pa. 402, 33 A. 229; Armstrong County v. Rearic, 315 Pa. 133, 172 A. 130; Meitner v. Scarborough, 321 Pa. 212, 184 A. 81; Pennsylvania Company v. Wallace, 346 Pa. 532, 31 A.2d 71.

[ 371 Pa. Page 225]

We recognize the rule that where, however, the controlling findings are the result of deductions or inferences from undisputed evidence, such findings are reviewable by an appellate court: Blue Ridge Metal Manufacturing Company v. Proctor et al., 327 Pa. 424, 194 A. 559; William Sellers & Co., Inc. v. Clarke-Harrison, Inc., 354 Pa. 109, 46 A.2d 497; Brooks v. Conston, 356 Pa. 69, 51 A.2d 684, and the many cases therein. As was said by Judge Keller (later President Judge) in Altaffer v. Anderson Automobile Company, 77 Pa. Superior Ct. 63, at p. 65: "The appellee relies upon the ...


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