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GINGRICH v. BLUE RIDGE MEMORIAL GARDENS (10/12/71)

decided: October 12, 1971.

GINGRICH, APPELLANT,
v.
BLUE RIDGE MEMORIAL GARDENS



Appeals from decrees of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Nos. 2986 and 3028 of 1969, in cases of Russell Gingrich, t/a Gingrich Memorials, v. The Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens.

COUNSEL

Howard Stern, with him Thomas D. Caldwell, Jr., Shavick, Stern, Schotz, Steiger & Croland, and Caldwell, Clouser & Kearns, for appellant.

Wentworth Darcy Vedder, with him David H. Rosenbluth, Morris, Vedder and Fitzkee, and Stradley, Ronon, Stevens and Young, for appellees.

John H. Bream, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones.

Author: Jones

[ 444 Pa. Page 421]

By reason of the substantial similarity of the issues involved, we will consider both these appeals in one opinion.

Russell Gingrich, trading as Gingrich Memorials (Gingrich), for some years has been engaged in the sale and erection of cemetery markers and monuments in Dauphin County and its environs. Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens (Blue Ridge), a nonprofit and tax exempt corporation, operates a cemetery in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County and Marlon Corporation, a corporation for profit, is engaged in the business of soliciting customers, presumably as agent for Blue Ridge, for the purchase of markers and monuments to be placed upon burial lots in Blue Ridge Cemetery.

Bishop Leech, Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg (Diocese), in his fiduciary capacity, operates three cemeteries in Dauphin, York and Northumberland Counties. The entity of which Bishop Leech is fiduciary

[ 444 Pa. Page 422]

    is a religious and charitable trust which is tax exempt and its principal activity is the operation of these three cemeteries.

On September 15, 1969, Gingrich instituted an equity action in the Dauphin County Common Pleas Court against Blue Ridge and Marlon and, on March 31, 1970, Gingrich instituted a similar action in the same court against the Diocese.*fn1

The thrust of both equity actions was that Blue Ridge and the Diocese, by engaging in the sale of markers and monuments, was actively competing in business with Gingrich to his financial injury, that Blue Ridge, under its corporate charter, was not authorized to sell and erect markers and monuments and that the Diocese, as a religious charitable trust, ...


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