Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, No. 2966 in Equity, in case of Margaret Rozik, alias dictus Margaret Marie Rozik, and Anthony Rozik, her husband v. Monongahela Valley Area Enterprises, Inc., et al.
Paul A. Simmons, with him Tempest & Simmons, for appellants.
Daniel J. Snyder, with him Costello & Snyder, for appellee.
Christ C. Walthour, Jr., with him John E. Costello and Kunkle, Walthour and Garland, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Jones and Mr. Justice Pomeroy took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
This appeal arises out of an action brought by appellants Anthony and Margaret Rozik seeking reformation of a deed on the ground of an allegedly fraudulent
interlineation changing a reservation of coal, oil and gas to a nonreservation. We agree with the chancellor that the sum of the evidence is not legally sufficient to establish fraud and, accordingly, affirm the decree dismissing appellants' amended complaint in equity.
By deed dated September 30, 1955, appellants conveyed approximately 43 acres of real estate to appellee Monongahela Valley Enterprises, Inc., a corporation, for a total consideration of $21,150. At the time of the sale, appellants knew that Monongahela intended to put the conveyed property to industrial use. The deed as recorded contained the following exception and reservation of mineral rights: "Excepting and Reserving unto the Grantors both coal, oil and gas, hereunder, as heretofore conveyed, but no wells shall be drilled thereon by the said Grantors." (Emphasis added.) On August 1, 1958, Monongahela sold this same 43-acre tract to appellee Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway Company for $400 per acre.
On April 16, 1959, appellants filed a complaint in equity alleging that the words "as heretofore conveyed" in the above recited clause had been fraudulently inserted by unknown persons after delivery of the signed deed and before it was recorded. They asserted that they intended at all times to except and reserve all mineral rights and that this intent had been communicated to the attorney who prepared the deed. Shortly thereafter an amended complaint was filed alleging that Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway knew or should have known of the fraudulent alteration prior to its purchase of the land from Monogahela. Both defendant-appellees filed answers denying participating in any fraudulent alteration or knowledge of any such alteration.
After an extensive hearing, the chancellor found that the contested phrase "as heretofore conveyed" was an obvious ...