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LEBO ESTATE. (03/28/61)

March 28, 1961

LEBO ESTATE.


Appeal, No. 18, May T., 1961, from order of Orphans' Court of Dauphin County, No. 884 of 1957, in the matter of estate of Ira T. Lebo, deceased. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Howell C. Mette, with him Rhoads, Sinon & Reader, for appellant.

Henry E. Harner, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 403 Pa. Page 124]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO.

Ira T. Lebo died testate on November 28, 1957. On May 26, 1958, Susan E. N. Peffley, a cousin of Lebo's mother, filed a claim against the estate for $6500 in payment of services assertedly rendered to Lebo over a period of six years. The executor disallowed the claim and Mrs. Peffley excepted to the account. The Orphans' Court of Dauphin County, after a full hearing, sustained Mrs. Peffley's exceptions,

[ 403 Pa. Page 125]

*fn* and ordered the executor to amend his schedule of distribution, allowing $5,000 to Mrs. Peffley in payment of her claim. The executor, Donald C. Waggoner, appealed.

The appellant contends that there is no evidence of a contract between the testator and the claimant for payment of the services in question. But Mrs. Peffley's claim is based on quantum meruit and not on contract. The obligations which a man incurs during life, no less than his good deeds, live after him and, to the extent that he lives on through his property, he must discharge the obligations he failed to meet while alive. This is not to say that the record shows Mr. Lebo to have been an unjust man. On the contrary, generous legacies to charities enumerated in his will would attest to a benevolent nature, but, being human, he could, and possibly did overlook the most obvious of obligations, namely, that of paying for services rendered to one in connection with the very property which became the vehicle for his posthumous generosity.

Lebo owned a grocery store which occupied the first floor of a building with two floors given over to apartments. Mrs. Peffley helped Lebo in his grocery store business and attended to all transactions involving the rental of his apartments. She handled his affairs at the bank. One witness testified that Mrs. Peffley "made investments, bought bonds or whatever they buy and if he had any other kind of banking business she would take care of it." She paid his household bills and when he was hospitalized she

[ 403 Pa. Page 126]

    made arrangements for nurses and special care and visited him every day to receive his instructions, which she dutifully discharged.

The services Mrs. Peffley performed for Lebo usually consumed four or five hours a day, two or three days a week. The vice president of the Central Trust Capital Bank testified that Mrs. Peffley would come to the bank in connection with Lebo's affairs three or four times a week.

Appellant's counsel urges in his brief that the described services were "trivial." What is trivial is strictly a matter of comparison. Even an earthquake of sizable proportions is trivial against an atomic blast which lays waste half a continent. Mrs. Peffley's services were indeed trivial compared to the job of managing Macy's Department Store, but for Ira T. Lebo those services were of major importance and relieved him of many worries so that he could relax and enjoy the blessings of tranquillity in his declining years. The ...


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