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O'NEILL v. KEEGAN (04/01/54)

April 1, 1954

O'NEILL
v.
KEEGAN, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 47, Jan. T., 1954, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County, Jan. T., 1953, No. 1, in case of Frank J. O'Neill v. Eugene Keegan and Keegan, Inc. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Clement J. Reap, with him David M. Boyd, for appellants.

Louis Lipschitz, with him J. Wilson Ames and Louis A. Fine, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 376 Pa. Page 607]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

For eleven years prior to the transaction which has given rise to this lawsuit the plaintiff Frank J. O'Neill owned in Pleasant Mount Township, Wayne County,

[ 376 Pa. Page 608]

    real estate with a building containing a restaurant, bar room, lodging rooms and dance hall. On May 1, 1948, O'Neill entered into an option agreement with Eugene Keegan to lease to him the indicated premises at an annual rental of $1800. This agreement provided that the plaintiff would transfer to Keegan the liquor license owned by the plaintiff. It was further stipulated that this license was not to be removed or transferred from the premises during the period of the lease. A right of renewal clause in the printed form of the option was stricken out.

Three weeks later the parties entered into a supplemental option agreement which provided that in the event Keegan "for any reason, foregoes the leasing of the premises," he was to give plaintiff "the first refusal for the retransfer of the liquor license," and that Keegan was "not to sublet the premises or transfer the license to a third party within the five year period without the approval of" the plaintiff.

On May 31, 1948, the lease went into effect and on the same day a bill of sale was entered into whereby the plaintiff transferred to Eugene Keegan and Keegan Inc., title to all the alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages on the premises, together with the Pennsylvania liquor license which had been issued to the plaintiff.

At the expiration of the five year lease, the plaintiff prepared to transfer back the liquor license. The plaintiff filed a bill in equity to compel the transfer and to restrain the defendants from transferring the license to anyone else. The Chancellor, who heard the case, found in favor of the plaintiff. The defendants appealed.

Was there an absolute sale of the liquor license by the plaintiff to the defendants or was the transfer of the license (as the Chancellor found) only a temporary on running ...


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