Appeal, No. 172, March T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, June T., 1957, No. 128, in case of Joseph F. Pellegrene, trading and doing business as Pellegrene Construction Co., v. Mario H. Luther et ux. Judgment affirmed; reargument refused April 25, 1961.
Earl R. Handler, with him William M. Ruddock, and Fisher, Ruddock & Simpson, and Handler & Malcolm, for appellants.
Donald M. Miller, with him Miller, Buterbaugh and Cope, for appellee.
Before Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL.
Plaintiff recovered a verdict for $13,572.81, based upon an alleged oral contract for the construction of defendants' house, i.e., the cost of the labor and materials plus the sum of $500. Plaintiff testified that the parties agreed to cancel a written contract under the terms of which plaintiff agreed to build the house for $20,500 and to substitute the above mentioned oral contract. Defendant-husband vigorously denied any oral contract as well as plaintiff's other material evidence, and counterclaimed for damages resulting from plaintiff's breach of his written contract. A witness testified that defendant-husband admitted he owed plaintiff some money for the work on his house. If the weight of the evidence was the only question involved, the appeal could be dismissed without further discussion. However, the appeal raises material questions and alleges numerous errors concerning the parol evidence rule which was apparently misunderstood by everyone.
Plaintiff not only introduced in evidence the written contract and the attached specifications,*fn* but he likewise proved (a) all the negotiations which led up to the written contract, and (b) a parol agreement entered into by the parties which was at complete variance with the subsequent written contract.
The modern Pennsylvania parol evidence rule which dispelled the thick fog of confusion which enveloped
the old Pennsylvania parol evidence rule, has been forged and perfected during the last 30 years. That rule, it is universally agreed, is as stated in Bardwell v. The Willis Company, 375 Pa. 503, 100 A.2d 102. In that case plaintiff brought an action in trespass for loss of profits suffered as a result of false and fraudulent material representations made by defendants immediately prior to or contemporaneous with the execution of the five year lease. Plaintiff further averred that he relied upon these fraudulent representations and was, because of them, induced to enter into the lease. Notwithstanding these averments, this Court sustained a demurrer by defendant and said (pages 506-507): "Where the alleged prior or contemporaneous oral representations or agreements concern a subject which is specifically dealt with in the written contract, and the written contract covers or purports to cover the entire agreement of the parties, the law is now clearly and well settled that in the absence of fraud, accident or mistake the alleged oral representations or agreements are merged in or superseded by the subsequent written contract, and parol evidence to vary, modify or supersede the written contract is inadmissible in evidence [unless it is averred and proved that they were omitted from the written agreement by fraud, accident or mutual mistake]: Phillips Gas and Oil Co. v. Kline, 368 Pa. 516, 519, 84 A.2d 301; Grubb v. Rockey, 366 Pa. 592, 79 A.2d 255; Walker v. Saricks, 360 Pa. 594, 63 A.2d 9; Gianni v. Russell & Co., Inc., 281 Pa. 320, 126 A. 791; Speier v. Michelson, 303 Pa. 66, 154 A. 127; O'Brien v. O'Brien, 362 Pa. 66, 66 A.2d 309; Russell v. Sickles, 306 Pa. 586, 160 A. 610.
"The Parol Evidence Rule has had a checkered career in Pennsylvania. Now that it has been well and wisely settled we will not permit it to be ...