Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, March T., 1971, No. 1, in case of L.C.S. Colliery, Inc., a Pennsylvania Corporation and Sixtus Campdon v. Joseph N. Mack.
S. R. DiFrancesco, Sr., with him Edward T. Stibich, DiFrancesco & DiFrancesco, and Weimer, Bennet, Jones & Stibich, for appellants.
John S. Fisher, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Chief Justice Jones concurs in the result.
The Crichton Coal and Coke Company was the lessee and L.C.S. Colliery, Inc., and Sixtus Campdon, appellants, were the lessors in a lease dated November 13, 1957. Under the terms of the lease, Crichton, after acknowledging certain debts owing to L.C.S. for the purchase of mining equipment and the previous mining of certain coal from the premises, agreed to pay the lessors certain royalties on a monthly basis for the coal still in the premises, with the payments to go first to extinguishment of the debt, after which time Crichton was to pay a royalty of ten cents per net ton for
the remaining term of the lease or until the prior exhaustion of the coal. The lease also contained the following provision: "In the event that the estimated coal in place shall have been paid for prior to the termination of this lease agreement, then a rental in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100.00) per month plus all property taxes shall be paid by Crichton until the agreement is terminated."
On June 21, 1966, Joseph N. Mack, appellee, who was general counsel to Crichton, wrote appellants a letter containing the following statement: "Our advance royalties now total $8,400.00 which is more than sufficient to pay for the tonnage estimated to remain in place. We are, therefore, entitled under our lease above indicated, to pay the sum of $100.00 per month to remain until November of 1978, and to remain until such time as we have mined and removed the remaining coal which we have already paid for and which remains in the tracts indicated all of which is in accordance with the above indicated lease agreement."
Mr. Mack followed this letter with another letter dated August 16, 1966:
"Enclosed herewith please find photocopy of an account established for and on behalf of L.C.S. Colliery and/or Sixtus Campdon for rentals due under a lease agreement between L.C.S. Colliery and Sixtus Campdon, said lease agreement being 11/13/57.
"These rentals are being deposited for your account in view of the fact that you have refused to accept the same and have returned checks of Crichton Coal & Coke Company to this date. This amount will be turned over to you at any time you so desire in cash or by certified check.
"It is our intention to make further deposits in this account as rental becomes due until such time as your corporation ...