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MILLER v. FIDELITY MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY. (12/29/56)

December 29, 1956

MILLER, APPELLANT,
v.
FIDELITY MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY.



Appeal, No. 184, Jan. T., 1956, from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 4 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1954, No. 1052, in case of Samuel Miller v. The Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company et al. Decree affirmed. Equity to reform and reinstate a life insurance policy. Before BROWN, P.J. Adjudication filed finding for defendants; exceptions to adjudication dismissed and final decree entered dismissing complaint. Plaintiff appealed.

COUNSEL

Charles S. Schermer, for appellant.

Arthur R. Kane, Jr., and Richardson Blair, with them Joseph P. Flanagan, Jr., Charles I. Thompson, Harry S. Redeker, Weyl & Kane, and Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, for appellees.

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

Author: Stern

[ 387 Pa. Page 218]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

The controversy in this case does not involve any legal problem but merely issues of fact.

Plaintiff, Samuel Miller, was employed by defendant, Long Motors, Inc., hereinafter called the Company,

[ 387 Pa. Page 219]

    as an automobile salesman and sales manager from January, 1946, to May, 1947, receiving a fixed salary at first of $75 and later of $100 per week. He then gave up his employment for about a year, returning in April, 1948, and continuing until July, 1949, when he finally left for reasons of ill health; during this final year he was on a straight salary basis of $125 per week. Throughout these two periods he was regularly carried on the payroll records of the Company and his salary was subject to the normal deductions for withholding-tax and social security.

Plaintiff claims that sometime in August or September, 1948, the President of the Company orally promised him that, in lieu of paying him an annual cash bonus, the Company would purchase for him an annuity or retirement income policy so that "when and if" he "ever reached the age of 65" (he was then 51 years old) he "would have some money to fall back on," the Company to pay the premiums thereon of approximately $1,900 per year, but instead of carrying out this promise the Company took out a policy which did not designate him as owner and beneficiary but, on the contrary, named the Company itself in those capacities.

The Company presented a different version of the oral conversation. It asserted that its undertaking was a purely voluntary one, that the policy was not intended to be in lieu of any annual bonus, that it was to be taken out in its own name, and that it was understood that if, and only if, plaintiff remained in the Company's employ until the maturity of the policy, September 24, 1962, the Company would then begin to pay over to him the benefits prescribed in ...


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