Appeal, No. 120, April T., 1959, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Aug. T., 1956, No. 6, in case of David Friedman et al. v. Joseph Matovich. Order modified and, as modified, affirmed.
Charles G. Sweet, for appellant.
Adolph L. Zeman, with him Robert L. Zeman, Sherman H. Siegel, and Zeman & Zeman, for appellees.
Before Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ. (rhodes, P.j., absent).
[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 277]
This is an appeal from an order granting a new trial to the plaintiffs in an assumpsit action after the jury awarded them $1 for legal services which they had rendered to the defendant.
Joseph Matovich, the defendant in this case, had been declared incompetent and his brother had been appointed guardian of his estate. The guardian had purchased a farm in Washington County with funds belonging to the defendant and wrongfully retained a life estate therein. The defendant employed David A. Friedman, Esq. and John A. Metz, Jr., Esq., both members of the Allegheny County Bar, to represent him in an effort to have the court declare him competent, to discharge the guardian, and to compel the guardian to account.
As a result of proceedings brought by the plaintiffs, the court adjudged the defendant competent and removed his guardian. This was followed by an equity proceeding in which the plaintiffs filed exceptions to two separate accounts, spent several days trying the case, prepared suggested findings of fact and conclusions of law, and argued before the chancellor and later before the court en banc.
As a result of these proceedings, the guardian was directed to surrender and convey to the defendant the life estate which the guardian had taken in a farm in Mt. Pleasant Township, Allegheny County, containing about 287 acres, the value of which property was set at $20,000. The plaintiffs also succeeded in having the courts void approximately $7400 in claims which the guardian had attempted to assert against his ward.
The plaintiffs placed a value of $4050 upon these services. They admitted receiving a retainer of $300 at the beginning of the litigation, reducing their claim to $3750. This action in assumpsit was brought by the two lawyers to recover this sum from their former client.
[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 278]
The defendant admitted that the services had been rendered by the plaintiffs with the above results, but contended that at the time he had engaged them, he had paid them $300 which they agreed to accept as payment for all services to be rendered in connection with the proceedings for which they had been retained. The plaintiffs claimed that the $300 was a retainer only, and that they were to be paid on a quantum meruit basis, after the proceedings were ...