Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. National Bank & Trust Company of Central Pennsylvania, No. 1202 September Term, 1966.
Richard H. Wix, with him Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for appellant.
Heath L. Allen, with him William E. Miller, Jr., and Metzger, Hafer, Keefer, Thomas and Wood, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge Wilkinson, Jr., and Judge Blatt Join in this dissenting opinion.
We are asked to determine the propriety of the action of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County in (1) granting appellee a new trial; and (2) refusing to grant appellant bank's motion for a compulsory non-suit on the facts in this case.
The genesis of this controversy was the institution by the Commonwealth of an action in assumpsit to recover $21,138.07 with appropriate interest from National Bank & Trust Company (collecting-bank) which sum represents an amount allegedly paid out improperly by the collecting-bank on checks whose endorsements had been forged.
The Department of Transportation (formerly the Department of Highways) in the usual course of its business delivers checks drawn on several banks throughout the Commonwealth from Harrisburg to its various district and county offices throughout the state for distribution to named payees. Some checks are periodically returned for a variety of reasons such as the death of a payee, or an error in amount, or issuance to individuals on leave without pay.
In 1963 and 1964, an individual who was employed by the Department as a Supervisor of the Payroll, intercepted one hundred and thirty-six (136) of the returned checks totaling $21,138.07 and forged the endorsements of the named payees. He presented the checks drawn on twenty different banks to the appellant and received either cash or a credit on his account.*fn1
Appellant then presented the checks to the various drawee banks for collection and received the stated amounts. The drawee banks then debited the accounts of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth obtained assignments from the several drawee banks of all the rights of the drawee banks against the appellant. Subsequently, the Commonwealth brought this action both in its own right and on the basis of its assigned rights seeking to recover the sums paid out together with interest thereon.
Appellant collecting-bank filed preliminary objections to the complaint. These were overruled*fn2 and the matter was sent to trial. The case was submitted to a jury for determination and it returned a verdict in favor of the collecting-bank. The Commonwealth motioned for judgment non obstante verdicto (n.o.v.) and for a new trial. The collecting-bank also filed a motion for ...