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BAKER v. GEIST (07/01/74)

decided: July 1, 1974.

BAKER, APPELLANT,
v.
GEIST



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, No. 3004 of 1969, in case of Harold S. Baker v. Minnie E. Geist and Hannah M. Tussey.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Klein, for appellant.

Elmer E. Harter, for appellees.

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

Author: Manderino

[ 457 Pa. Page 74]

The appellant, Harold S. Baker, brought an action under the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act, Act of May 21, 1921, P. L. 1045, No. 379, §§ 1-13, 39 P.S. §§ 351-63, seeking to set aside certain conveyances made by the appellee Minnie E. Geist, to her niece, appellee Hannah M. Tussey. The trial court refused to set aside the conveyances and this appeal followed.

The appellant and appellee Geist were involved in an automobile collision on September 21, 1968. Between

[ 457 Pa. Page 75]

September 4, 1969, and October 16, 1969, the appellant's attorney sent two letters to appellee Geist and two letters to her attorney. In those letters the appellant's attorney notified appellee Geist of the appellant's claim for damages for the injuries which were sustained by the appellant as a result of the negligent conduct of appellee Geist on September 21, 1968. In the letters, appellee Geist was notified that her personal assets would be necessary to "cover the gap between [her] insurance coverage [$10,000] and the amount necessary to settle [the] claim." Appellee Geist was informed that the appellant's damages were already close to $17,000 since appellant had lost approximately $7,800 in earnings and incurred hospital and doctor bills of about $9,000. Appellant's attorney suggested a settlement whereby appellee Geist, who was a widow without children, would convey her home to appellant with a life estate reserved to appellee Geist. Appellant's attorney wrote in one letter "This would insure that your client [appellee Geist] would have a roof over her head for the balance of her life and would have no further expenses [than] her usual household expenses and taxes." Appellant's attorney said further that if the plan was not acceptable, suit would be instituted. The last letter requested an answer no later than October 24, 1969. On that date, appellee Geist, who had not accepted the appellant's offer, conveyed to her niece, appellee Tussey, her home which was worth between $16,500 (appellant's estimate) and $20,000 (appellee's estimate). She also conveyed to her niece approximately $7,000 worth of stock in two savings and loan associations. After these conveyances, appellee Geist's assets consisted of approximately $2,500 in checking and savings accounts.

On November 26, 1969, the appellant filed an action in tort against appellee Geist. On April 8, 1970, a jury returned a verdict of $49,200 in favor of the appellant

[ 457 Pa. Page 76]

    against appellee Geist. Appellee Geist did not have sufficient assets to pay the verdict. Appellant then filed an action under the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act. He alleged that the conveyances made by appellee Geist to her niece on October 24, 1969, five months prior to the verdict, were fraudulent as to him as a creditor and should be set aside.

The Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act permits a creditor to set aside conveyances if the conveyances are fraudulent as to creditors. Act of May 21, 1921, P. L. 1045, No. 379, §§ 9-10, 39 P.S. §§ 359-60. The appellant claims that the conveyances of October 24, 1969, were fraudulent under section 4 of the Act which provides: "Every conveyance made and every obligation incurred by a person who is or will be thereby rendered insolvent, is fraudulent as to creditors, without regard to his actual intent, if the ...


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