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ALPERN v. GIRARD TRUST CORN EXCHANGE BANK (04/17/61)

April 17, 1961

ALPERN, ATTORNEY GENERAL,
v.
GIRARD TRUST CORN EXCHANGE BANK, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 8, May T., 1961, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Commonwealth Docket No. 105 of 1958, in case of Anne X. Alpern, Attorney General, v. Girard Trust Corn Exchange Bank. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Philip Price, with him Spencer G. Hall, Arthur E. Newbold, III, Theodore Voorhees, and Barnes, Dechert, Price, Myers & Rhoads, and Nauman, Smith, Shissler & Hall, for appellant.

Jack M. Cohen, Deputy Attorney General, and Raymond J. Bradley, Special Assistant Attorney General, with them Samuel B. Blaskey, Special Counsel, for appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 403 Pa. Page 393]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN.

The Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County for an order directing the Girard Trust Corn Exchange Bank of Philadelphia, (hereinafter called Girard), to pay into the State treasury, without escheat, certain alleged unclaimed funds, the rightful owners of which are unknown. The respondent, Girard, pursuant to the Act of March 5, 1925, P.L. 23, § 2, 12 PS § 673, challenging the jurisdiction of the court below, filed a petition asking dismissal of the action. The court below refused to dismiss and from said order this appeal is prosecuted.

The Commonwealth's petition was filed under the Act of May 16, 1919, P.L. 177, as supplemented and amended, 27 PS § 431 et seq., which provides for the payment into the state treasury, without escheat, funds made escheatable under any other statute of the Commonwealth.*fn1 The petition alleges that the funds involved are escheatable under the Act of June 7, 1915, P.L. 878, as amended, 27 PS § 241 et seq. This statute which applies, inter alia, to national banks and trust companies authorizes the escheat of money, property and debts which have remained unclaimed, or where the owners of which have been unknown for a period of seven successive years or more.

While many unique and interesting questions are involved in this issue, the narrow question presently

[ 403 Pa. Page 394]

    before this Court is whether or not the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County may hear and determine the controversy. Whether or not the allegations of the petition can be sustained is not now before us. All we are to decide is, whether or not under the facts pleaded, the Attorney General may prosecute this action in the court in which it was instituted.

Basically, the action involves funds now held by Girard, or used for its own purposes, which allegedly came into being as a portion of the earnings and profits realized from the use of monies it held in years past in various fiduciary capacities. Count one of the petition concerns interest and earnings realized from the use of funds held by Girard as guardian, executor, administrator, testamentary trustee, inter vivos trustee, agent and trustee under corporate trust indentures, during the period of 1906 through November 23, 1915. Count two involves earnings and profits realized from the use of funds held by Girard in each of the fiduciary capacities specified in count one, except funds held by it under corporate trust indentures, and covers the period of December 1, 1915, through November 30, 1935. Count three involves interest and earnings from the use of funds held by it as a trustee under corporate trust indentures, during the period of December 1, 1915, through November 10, 1936.

The petition alleges, that Girard in the course of its business during the years involved, received the funds and property of a great number of individuals, estates, trusts and corporations, which it had under its control in a fiduciary capacity; that from time to time, Girard had on hand certain cash balances belonging to those having a beneficial interest in these various fiduciary accounts, which cash it did not invest for the benefit of the owners. Instead, ...


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