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SICOLA v. FIRST NATIONAL BANK ALTOONA. (05/22/61)

May 22, 1961

SICOLA
v.
FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF ALTOONA.



Appeals, Nos. 230, 231, 232, 233, 234 and 235, Jan. T., 1961, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, Jan. T., 1960, Nos. 141 to 146, inclusive, in case of Frank J. Sicola et al. v. The First National Bank of Altoona. Judgments reversed.

COUNSEL

Stephen M. Feldman, with him Merle K. Evey, Joseph G. Feldman, and Feldman & Feldman, for appellants.

Robert C. Haberstroh, for appellee.

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

Author: Bok

[ 404 Pa. Page 19]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BOK.

Six persons, now appellants, sued the defendant bank for malicious prosecution. They have appealed because the court below sustained preliminary objections to their complaints.

The bank had plaintiffs arrested for obtaining money under false pretenses and for conspiracy committed on January 18 and 30, 1958. Plaintiff Strong was acquitted by a jury on December 9, 1959, and on January 12, 1960, the indictments against the other plaintiffs were nolle prossed. The complaints in the instant cases were filed on March 9, 1960.

The preliminary objections asserted, and the court below held, that the complaints were tardily filed because

[ 404 Pa. Page 20]

    of the Statute of Limitations, Act of July 1, 1935, P.L. 503, 12 PS ยง 51, which provides: "That every suit to recover damages for malicious prosecution or for false arrest, because of a right of action hereafter accruing, must be brought within one year from the date of the accruing of such right of action, and not thereafter...."

The court below felt that the injury to the plaintiffs occurred at the moment of their arrest and hence that their right of action accrued at that time. Its reason was that the requirement of a favorable termination of the criminal proceedings was a condition precedent to recovery for malicious prosecution in order to avoid the possibility of inconsistent verdicts, that is to say, one criminal verdict and another and different civil verdict. This was clear error.

We accept the allegations of the complaints as true: Ayers v. Morgan, 397 Pa. 282 (1959), 154 A.2d 788. The cited case, involving the discovery nine years after a surgical operation that the defendant doctor had left a sponge inside a patient, also informs us that a statute of limitation must be read in the light of common sense and ...


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