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TOFF v. VLAHAKIS (03/14/55)

March 14, 1955

TOFF
v.
VLAHAKIS, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 108, Jan. T., 1955, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, June T., 1953, in Equity, No. 4, in case of Herbert Toff, Trustee, Estate of James P. Vlahakis, Bankrupt v. Stella J. Vlahakis. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Nathan L. Reibman, for appellant.

Raymond J. DeRaymond, with him George F. Coffin, Jr. and Coffin & Grifo, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j.,

Author: Jones

[ 380 Pa. Page 513]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

Herbert Toff, as trustee of James P. Vlahakis in bankruptcy, instituted this suit in equity against the bankrupt's wife, Stella J. Vlahakis, to recover funds transferred by Vlahakis to his wife without adequate consideration while he was either insolvent or rendered insolvent by the transfer. The complaint alleged that, in the circumstances pleaded, the transfer constituted a fraudulent conveyance within the intendment of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act of May 21, 1921, P.L. 1045, 39 PS ยง 351 et seq. The defendant answered, denying that the transfer was made with the intent to hinder, delay or defraud the husband's creditors. The plaintiff thereupon moved for judgment on the pleadings which the court below granted. The appeal by Stella J. Vlahakis followed.

For the purpose of passing upon a plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings, the well pleaded allegations of fact contained in the defendant's answer are to be taken as true: Wark & Company v. Twelfth & Sansom Corporation, 378 Pa. 578, 580, 107

[ 380 Pa. Page 514]

A.2d 856. But, the inferences to be drawn from the pleaded facts are deducible by an appellate court, and conclusions of law are, of course, reviewable: London v. Kingsley, 368 Pa. 109, 111, 81 A.2d 870. And, while a summary judgment is to be entered only in a clear case, if the complaint sufficiently pleads a cause of action and the answer fails to present a meritorious legal defense, judgment for the plaintiff on the pleadings should, on motion, be entered in the interest of expediting justice: Wark & Company v. Twelfth & Sansom Corporation, supra; Madison-Kipp Corporation v. Price Battery Corporation, 311 Pa. 22, 25, 166 A. 377. Viewing the pleadings in this case with the foregoing legal principles in mind, the following material facts appear.

On May 17, 1951, Vlahakis assigned to one Joseph L. Friedman, for a stated consideration of $5,000, his leasehold interest in premises in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he had installed fixtures and operated a restaurant. At the time of the assignment of the lease, Vlahakis received from Friedman a check in the sum of $2,000. The balance of the consideration was paid to an escrow agent to be held pending Vlahakis' vacation of the premises and the completion of certain repairs thereto. Vlahakis gave notice to his creditors that he was liquidating his assets, and on June 5, 1951, sold the restaurant fixtures at public sale for the ostensible benefit of his creditors. The proceeds of the sale, however, were barely sufficient to pay the expenses incident to the sale, and Vlahakis made no payments to his creditors. On June 11, 1951, Vlahakis and Friedman, by a supplemental agreement, arranged that the $3,000 held by the escrow agent should be distributed as follows: $500 to be retained by the escrow agent pending completion of the repairs to the demised property; $140 to be paid to Friedman; and the balance

[ 380 Pa. Page 515]

($2,360) to be paid to Vlahakis, for which he contemporaneously received a check in that amount. Vlahakis then endorsed in blank this check and the earlier check for $2,000 and turned them over to his wife. Both checks were presented by Mrs. Vlahakis for payment which she received. Shortly thereafter Mrs. Vlahakis took her husband to Florida with her. About a month later (viz., July 20, 1951), the petition of Vlahakis' creditors, whereon he was adjudged bankrupt by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed, and on December 18, ...


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