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ZARNOWSKI v. FIDULA (04/01/54)

April 1, 1954

ZARNOWSKI, APPELLANT,
v.
FIDULA



Appeal, No. 6, Jan. T., 1954, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Jan. T., 1951, No. 5, in case of Leo Zarnowski v. Josephine Fidula and Rose Harvilchuk. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Guy A. Sofanelli, with him Gerald G. Dolphin, for appellant.

Eugene Nogi, with him Leo G. Knoll, for appellees.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 376 Pa. Page 603]

OPINION BY MR JUSTICE MUSMANNO

A family dispute in the courts is always a mournful spectacle, and the eventual decision often cannot do full justice, because fullness of probity is lacking on

[ 376 Pa. Page 604]

    either side. The litigation in this case has to do with a controversy between the son and the two daughters of Joseph and Cordelia Zarnowski, now deceased.

On November 17, 1950, the aged Zarnowskis (Joseph, 82; and Cordelia, 79) deeded to their daughters a certain piece of real estate with two houses. Upon the death of the grantors, the son Leo Zarnowski brought an action in equity to set aside the deed on the ground that his parents were weak of mind and body and that they were victims of fraud and undue influence practised upon them by his sisters. The learned Chancellor, before whom the cause was tried, found in favor of the defendants and an appeal to this Court followed.

It appears that the defendants, not unlike the two covetous daughters of King Lear, showed something less than true filial devotion to their parents. In 1948 the defendant Rose Harvilehuk caused the parents to be moved from the comfortable house in which they had been living into the basement of an adjoining house which contained no heating nor bathing facilities, although from time to time when the weather was particularly rigorous the parents were allowed to sleep in a bedroom in the daughter's apartment. It would seem, also, that the son was not free from filial blame since the testimony speaks of occasions when be gave his mother cause for tears. This neglect on the part of the children, however, censurable as it may be morally cannot affect the legality of the real estate transactions which met all requirements of the law.

Although both grantors were old, weak and weary, there is no evidence that they were lacking in mental stability, or that the execution of their deed was not the product of their own free will. The record shows that they consulted Leo G. Knoll, a member of the Bar of Lackawanna County ...


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