case, C.A. 19288) contingent on the settlement of the other eight cases and, as stated above, the understanding of counsel and the court was that each plaintiff was to be dealt with separately and on the basis of its own individual interest. On May 23 the trial judge was advised that settlement had been reached and the jury drawn to try Civil Action No. 19288 was discharged. Although it is not necessary to decide exactly what the total understanding reached on May 23 was, it is clear that defendants had agreed to the following:
(a) The Colonial case (C.A. 19288) would not be tried and was settled;
(b) all ten cases, with the possible exception of the Reo and the Dembow cases, were settled
(see page 25 of Document No. 79 in C.A. 19288); and
(c) the defendants' counsel were willing to undertake the raising of an additional sum as counsel fee which would permit settlement of the excepted cases mentioned in (b) above with the full approval of Messrs. Wax and Dembow (pp. 16 and 26-27 of Document No. 79 in Civil Action No. 19288), even though defendants took the position that the Reo and Dembow cases had actually been settled.
Under the above facts, it is clear that plaintiffs' counsel had the actual authority
to settle these two cases for $10,000.00 and did so settle them in May 1960 before plaintiffs had made any sale or lease of these theatres.
The Pennsylvania appellate courts have consistently held that where a definite oral contract is made, it is effective when orally accepted and the parties will be required to execute any written documents contemplated as necessary to carry out the terms of the oral agreement. See Taylor v. Stanley Co. of America , 305 Pa. 546, 553 (1932); Ketchum v. Conneaut Lake Co. , 309 Pa. 224, 229 (1932); Mezza v. Beiletti et ux , 161 Pa. Super, 213, 220 (1947); cf. Comm. Cas. Ins. Co. v. Martin , 316 Pa. 479, 480 (1934).
This record makes clear that there was an oral agreement to settle these two cases for $5,000 each, or a total of $10,000, which was completed in May 1960. In pursuance of this contract, defendants are required to pay this sum and plaintiffs are bound to execute appropriate releases, as well as have these actions marked dismissed with prejudice. There is no evidence whatever that the parties intended a writing to be executed containing all these settlement terms and no such writing, other than the correspondence saying the cases were settled (P-3), was prepared in any of the other eight cases.
The releases used did not mention the exact consideration but the nominal $1.00 was recited. The defendants are willing to accept a release without the words considered objectionable by plaintiffs, so that there is no need to decide what is an appropriate release as contemplated by the oral settlement agreement. Plaintiffs cannot avoid such a settlement agreement on the ground that they do not like a release which defendants are willing even to execute in a form exactly as desired by plaintiffs (N.T. 97-99).
See McKenzie v. Boorhem , 117 F.Supp. 433, 435-6 (W.D. Ark, 1954), where the court said at page 436:
"The agreement was complete and binding at that time, and the fact that the written agreement tendered to Boorhem for signing might not have conformed to the oral settlement agreement would not in any wise affect the validity of said oral agreement."
Oral settlement agreements are valid and enforcible in Pennsylvania.Woodbridge v. Hall , 366 Pa. 46 (1950); Scranton Gas & W. Co. v. Weston , 57 Pa. Super. 355 (1914).
This makes it unnecessary to consider many other matters argued by counsel, such as the existence on May 23 of a settlement of all ten cases and the validity of the purported assigned (P-12) of these causes of action in late July or early August 1960 to the purchaser of the assets of these corporations. Cf. § 542 of the Restatement of Contracts.
Conclusions of Law
1. The court has jurisdiction of the subject matter and of the parties.
2. These cases were settled by agreement of the parties in May 1960, providing for payment of $10,000.00 by defendants and the execution of releases by plaintiffs.
3. The defendants shall pay $10,000.00 into the registry of this court ($5,000.00 in each of the above cases), which shall be paid to plaintiffs upon execution of releases as of May 23, 1960, in the form attached as Exhibit A to the Petitions for Dismissal with these words eliminated from the first 2 1/2 lines of Section 3: "agrees that its present availability and the present procedure pursuant to which it licenses motion pictures is reasonable, and".
4. On payment of the above amounts into the registry of the court, orders shall be entered dismissing the actions with prejudice.
Appropriate orders will be entered.