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WEILERSBACHER v. PITTSBURGH BREWING COMPANY (04/19/66)

decided: April 19, 1966.

WEILERSBACHER, APPELLANT,
v.
PITTSBURGH BREWING COMPANY



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1964, No. 1164, in case of Grace V. Weilersbacher and Edwin R. Miller, trading as Albert P. Weilersbacher, distributor v. Pittsburgh Brewing Company.

COUNSEL

John R. Luke, for appellants.

Judd N. Poffinberger, Jr., with him Harry Woodruff Turner, and Kirkpatrick, Pomeroy, Lockhart & Johnson, for appellee.

Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.

Author: Eagen

[ 421 Pa. Page 119]

In this action in equity, the lower court sustained preliminary objections to the complaint in the nature of a demurrer and dismissed the action. Plaintiffs appeal.

The facts pleaded in the complaint may be summarized as follows:

The plaintiffs are the owners and operators of a beer distributing agency which purchased beer and other malt products from the defendant for many years. During this period, the agency spent much time and money in the furtherance of its business and the promotion of good will. In 1963, the plaintiffs and defendant entered into an oral agreement wherein the defendant contracted to sell its products to the plaintiffs

[ 421 Pa. Page 120]

    for cash at an agreed price schedule. In 1964, the defendant arbitrarily terminated the contract and refused to make further sales to the plaintiffs. The latter now seek to compel a continuing performance of the contract.

The ruling below was correct. The complaint fails to state a valid cause of action.

The contract, as pleaded, fails to provide any fixed tenure. Also, it fails to set forth any language or conditions indicating an intention that it was to continue for any particular period of time. All it states is that defendant's products would be sold to the plaintiffs for cash at stipulated prices.

Prior to the adoption by Pennsylvania of the Uniform Commercial Code,*fn1 the general rule of law concerning sales contracts, which did not specify a definite term or prescribe conditions which would determine the duration thereof, was that they could be terminated at will by either party. See, Price v. Confair, 366 Pa. 538, 79 A.2d 224 (1951); Slonaker v. P. G. Publishing Co., 338 Pa. 292, 13 A.2d 48 (1940); and Trainer v. Laird, 320 Pa. 414, 183 A. 40 (1936). In some few instances, this Court permitted an exception to the general rule. One such was where the complaining party plead and proved the existence of circumstances at the time the contract was executed, which clearly indicated an intention by the parties that it would continue in force for a reasonable time or some particular period. This was the situation presented in Nolle v. Mutual ...


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