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WARK & COMPANY v. TWELFTH & SANSOM CORPORATION (09/27/54)

September 27, 1954

WARK & COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
TWELFTH & SANSOM CORPORATION



Appeal, No. 201, Jan. T., 1954, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1953, No. 1466, in case of Wark & Company v. Twelfth & Sansom Corporation. Order reversed. Assumpsit upon an award of arbitrators. Order entered dismissing plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings, opinion by CRUMLISH, J. Plaintiff appealed.

COUNSEL

Yale L. Schekter, for appellant.

Samuel A. Goldberg, with him Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, for appellee.

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

Author: Jones

[ 378 Pa. Page 579]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

This litigation involves a dispute over the performance of a building contract and derives directly from a common law arbitration award in favor of the plaintiff contractor. The defendant answered and, by way of new matter, averred that the award was a nullity because the arbitrators, allegedly, had not properly discharged their function. The plaintiff's reply to the new matter denied that there had been any improper activity on the part of the arbitrators. Thereafter, the plaintiff moved for judgment on the pleadings. The

[ 378 Pa. Page 580]

    court below refused the motion and this appeal followed.

The refusal of the plaintiff's motion, under Rule 1034 of our Rules of Civil Procedure, for judgment on the pleadings is appealable by virtue of the Act of April 18, 1874, P.L. 64, 12 PS § 1097, which made appealable the refusal of the analogous motion, under prior practice, of judgment for want of a sufficient affidavit of defense: Rohm & Haas Co. v. Lessner, 168 Pa. Superior Ct. 242, 244-245, 77 A.2d 675. Cf. also Epstein v. Kramer, 374 Pa. 112, 120, 96 A.2d 912. It follows that, on such a motion, the allegations of the defendant's answer are to be taken as true. The plaintiff's answer are to be taken as true. The plaintiff's reply to new matter, if any, is to be ignored: see Cary v. Lower Merion School District, 362 Pa. 310, 312, 66 A.2d 762. But, a plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings (which, in effect, is a demurrer to the defendant's answer) does not authenticate its inferences of fact and conclusions of law: London v. Kingsley, 368 Pa. 109, 111, 81 A.2d 870. And, while summary judgment should be entered only in clear cases, where an answer to a complaint in assumpsit presents no meritorious legal defense to the claim, judgment for the plaintiff should, on motion, be summarily entered in the interest of expediting justice: Madison-Kipp Corporation v. Price Battery Corporation, 311 Pa. 22, 25, 166 A. 377.

While the issue here present is, in form, a question of adequacy of pleadings, the case is directly concerned with the finality or conclusiveness of an award in an arbitration proceeding to which the parties voluntarily submitted in accordance with their written contract. Stated otherwise, the basic question is whether a party to a consensual arbitration may, in the absence of an allegation of fraud, bias or the like, set upon an inquiry

[ 378 Pa. Page 581]

    into the reasons and the mental processes by which the arbitrators ...


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