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DEMPSKY v. DOUBLE. (11/27/56)

November 27, 1956

DEMPSKY, APPELLANT,
v.
DOUBLE.



Appeal, No. 19, March T., 1956, from judgment and order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1951, No. 1320, in case of John Dempsky v. Alma Double and Esther Smith. Judgment and order affirmed. Trespass for libel. Before SOFFEL, J. Compulsory non-suit entered; plaintiff's motion to take off non-suit refused and final order entered. Plaintiff appealed.

COUNSEL

Robert Engel, with him Coleman Harrison and Herbert G. Labbie, for appellant.

Walter T. McGough, with him Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellees.

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

Author: Stern

[ 386 Pa. Page 544]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

In this libel action the trial court entered a compulsory non-suit which was affirmed by the court en banc, and plaintiff appeals.

In May, 1950, a so-called "free-work probe" was being conducted in the City of Pittsburgh. It consisted of an investigation into the possible misuse of public property by local officials, especially the use of county vehicles by county employees for private purposes, and it was much publicized at the time in the newspapers.

On May 9, 1950, one of the defendants, Esther Smith, wrote a letter to the Controller of Allegheny County as follows:

"Dear Sir:

"This seems to be an opportune time to bring certain facts to your attention, and, as a taxpayer, to ask for an immediate investigation and an explanation regarding the use of County cars and trucks by a County employee for hauling materials used in the remodeling of a house which he purchased in 1948 when said property was up for sale for taxes.

"In the summar of 1948, Mr. John Dempsky, a county employee purchased the ...


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