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HANNA v. HANNA (06/15/61)

June 15, 1961


Appeal, No. 109, Oct. T., 1961, from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 5 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1957, No. 1740, in case of Anna Hanna v. Thomas D. Hanna. Decree affirmed. 310


Maxwell P. Gorson, for appellant.

James F. Doud, for appellee.

Before Ervin, Wright, Woodside, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ. (rhodes, P.j., absent).

Author: Wright

[ 195 Pa. Super. Page 310]


On October 25, 1957, Anna Hanna filed a complaint in divorce a.v.m. against her husband, Thomas D. Hanna, on the ground of cruel and barbarous treatment and indignities to the person. The case was referred to a Master who held a hearing on March 4, 1958, at which time the wife testified. The husband had been served with process and was properly notified of the hearing but did not appear. On March 21, 1958, the Master filed her report recommending that a divorce be granted. Following the entry of a rule for a final decree, the case was referred back to the Master on June 25, 1959, for the taking of testimony on the part of the husband. There were further hearings on July 2 and 8, 1959, following which the Master filed a supplemental report on July 14, 1959. The matter was referred back to the Master a second time, and there was a further ther hearing on August 6, 1959. The Master thereafter filed a second supplemental report on January 25, 1960. Because of formal objections, the matter was referred back to the Master a third time on April 25, 1960, following which the Master filed a third supplemental report on August 10, 1960. The husband's exceptions were dismissed on October 13, 1960, and a final decree was entered on November 15, 1960. The husband has appealed.

[ 195 Pa. Super. Page 311]

As indicated by the preceding paragraph, this case has had a long and involved procedural history, and there is a voluminous original record. Ida Idomir and Thomas D. Hanna were married at Elkton, Maryland, on December 12, 1952.*fn1 At that time the parties were respectively twenty-one and twenty-eight years of age. They lived together as husband and wife at 5008 Walnut Street in the City of Philadelphia until sometime in January, 1957. No children were born to their union. According to the wife's theory, the husband's conduct finally compelled her to leave the common habitation. She is employed as a nurse-anesthetist. The marriage certificate sets forth that the husband is a chemist by occupation. However, he stated at one of the hearings that he is "a physiologist in aviation". Our independent review of the testimony leads us to agree with the court below that the instant case "may be resolved into a contest of credibility". If the testimony of the wife is to be believed, the husband has been guilty of indignities and cruel and barbarous treatment. If the denials of the husband are to be credited, the divorce should not be granted.

The wife testified that trouble started soon after the marriage, that her husband did not bathe or change clothes; that he had an offensive odor; that he used foul language; that he called her vulgar names, such as "old bag", "tramp", "two-bit whore", before friends, relatives, doctors, and students; that he publicly accused her of selling her body for hire; that there was constant difficulty about finances; that she worked at the hospital and taught practical nursing on the side and turned over her earnings in order to assist with her husband's tuition at graduate school; that her husband did not give her sufficient money or permit her

[ 195 Pa. Super. Page 312]

    to drive the car; that she finally refused to turn over her pay check, which caused a violent argument; that her husband struck her severely; that her nose was bleeding and her lip swollen; that he held a knife to her neck and threatened to slit her throat; that a neighbor heard her screams and came in and took the knife away; that, as soon as the neighbor left, her husband stated that he would end it all for both of them; that he threatened to shoot her; that he grabbed her neck and commenced to choke her; that she escaped by hitting her husband with an umbrella, left the apartment and did not return. As was the Master and the court below, we were favorably impressed with the "trustworthiness and truthfulness" of the wife's testimony.

So far as the appellant is concerned, our feeling is one of sympathy, not only for the wife, but also for the Master. The husband was a difficult witness and his testimony was not indicative of an equable temperment. He sat with his feet on the Master's furniture, interjected offensive side remarks, used profanity, actually became violent, and his attorney was unable to quiet him. So far as we have been able to ascertain, other than a protracted denial, his defense was that his wife saw too much of a male anesthestiologist, who was her superior at the hospital. The record discloses no impropriety in this connection. The husband admitted that, at the time of the final argument, he struck his wife and tried to push her down the stairs. The two witnesses he produced contributed nothing of material value to the case. It clearly appears that the ...

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