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JOHNSON v. TRUSTEES GENERAL ASSEMBLY CHURCH LORD JESUS CHRIST APOSTOLIC FAITH. (06/28/62)

June 28, 1962

JOHNSON, APPELLANT,
v.
TRUSTEES OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CHURCH OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST OF THE APOSTOLIC FAITH.



Appeal, No. 242, Jan. T., 1962, from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 3 of Philadelphia County, March T., 1961, No. 4518, in case of Rose Johnson v. The Trustees of the General Assembly of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

J. J. Kilimnik, with him Benjamin Pomerantz, for appellant.

Clifford Scott Green, with him Austin Norris, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., and Norris, Green, Harris & Higginbotham, for appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 408 Pa. Page 32]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES

On May 24, 1961, Rose Johnson, the widow of Bishop Sherrod Johnson,*fn1 instituted an equity action in the Court of Common Pleas No. 3 of Philadelphia County against the Trustees of the General Assembly of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic

[ 408 Pa. Page 33]

Faith, also known as The Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith (Trustees) seeking: (a) to enjoin the Trustees from conveying certain property located in Philadelphia, Marlton, New Jersey, New York City and elsewhere in the United States; (b) to secure an accounting of all income derived by the Trustees from the said properties; (c) to have a receiver appointed to administer the properties.

The complaint averred: (1) that Rose Johnson is the widow of Bishop Johnson by whom she bore twelve children; (2) that, during his lifetime, Bishop Johnson acquired certain real, personal and mixed property; (3) that Bishop Johnson created the Trustees as an unincorporated body prior to 1948 but in 1948 the Trustees was incorporated; (4) that Bishop Johnson was the "sole proprietor and owner" and was, in fact, the body known as the Trustees, other incorporators of the Trustees being "menial help" in the Bishop's household; (5) that all the property acquired through the use of the Trustees' name was Bishop Johnson's property and that he used the Trustees' name in the acquisition of title to real, personal and mixed property "for the purpose of avoiding his legal responsibility" to his wife; (6) that the true owner of all such property is now the Estate of Bishop Johnson; (7) "that the said Bishop Johnson ... died on or about February 22, 1961, seized*fn2 of the property which is in the name of the [Trustees]"; (8) that any conveyance made during his lifetime by Bishop Johnson was without the consent or joinder of his wife and without consideration.

To this complaint the Trustees filed preliminary objections averring, inter alia, lack of jurisdiction of the subject matter in the court of common pleas. The court below concluded that exclusive jurisdiction of the subject

[ 408 Pa. Page 34]

    matter of the complaint was in the orphans' court and sustained on that ground the Trustees' preliminary objections without prejudice to Rose Johnson's right to proceed in the ...


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