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RYAN BROTHERS v. CURWENSVILLE STATE BANK. (05/25/55)

May 25, 1955

RYAN BROTHERS, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
CURWENSVILLE STATE BANK.



Appeal, No. 330, Jan. T., 1954, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County, Sept. T., 1947, No. 140, in case of Ryan Brothers, Inc. v. Curwensville State Bank. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Robert V. Maine, with him Edward T. Kelley and Smith, Maine, Whitsett & Lee, for appellant.

Walter M. Swoope, with him Bell, Silberblatt & Swoope, for appellee.

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

Author: Jones

[ 382 Pa. Page 249]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

This action in assumpsit was instituted by Ryan Brothers, Inc., a coal operator, against Curwensville State Bank to recover $18,271.55, representing the price of coal sold by the plaintiff through its exclusive sales agent, Cassler Coal Sales Agency, for which the defendant bank made collection, crediting the proceeds to the account of the Sales Agency without the plaintiff's knowledge and which account the bank later appropriated for the payment of debts due it by the Sales Agency.

The defendant filed preliminary objections to the complaint which were overruled and the defendant answered to the merits. The case came on for trial before the late Honorable HENRY HIPPLE, President Judge of the 25th Judicial District, specially presiding, to whom the case was tried without a jury pursuant to written stipulation of the parties in accordance with the Act of April 22, 1874, P.L. 109, 12 PS 688.

On April 17, 1951, Judge HIPPLE filed an opinion containing extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law and an order nisi directing the prothonotary to enter judgment for the defendant. The plaintiff duly filed exceptions to the findings, conclusions and order, and oral argument thereon was had. Judge HIPPLE's untimely death occurred before he had passed on the exceptions. Reargument was thereafter had before Honorable ROBERT M. MORRIS, President Judge of the 54th Judicial District, specially presiding. By order dated June 12, 1954, Judge MORRIS dismissed the plaintiff's exceptions, and judgment for the defendant was entered in due course. This appeal by the plaintiff followed.

The question of the defendant's liability to the plaintiff depends upon whether the bank knew or had reasonable cause to know that certain of the funds

[ 382 Pa. Page 250]

    which it collected from purchasers of plaintiff's coal, and credited to an account of the Sales Agency in the bank, were in fact the property of the plaintiff. The unquestioned documentary evidence and the undisputed facts in the case leave no doubt that the bank had or should have had such knowledge. A mere recitation of the material evidence will readily so disclose.

In 1943 Ryan Brothers, Inc., and Cassler Coal Sales Agency entered into an exclusive sales agency agreement which provided for the sale and invoicing of Ryan's coal by Cassler on a fixed commission basis. The agreement provided that all invoices for the plaintiff's coal, sold by the agent, should be made payable to Curwensville National Bank (later absorbed by the Curwensville State Bank, the present defendant). The ...


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