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GROSS v. PENN MUT. LIFE INS. CO.

March 21, 1975

MURRAY D. GROSS, Plaintiff,
v.
THE PENN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DITTER

 This action arises out of a dispute over the amount of dividends to be credited to an insurance policy issued by defendant to plaintiff. Presently before me is defendant's motion *fn1" to enforce a settlement agreement negotiated by counsel for the parties.

 Throughout this case, plaintiff, Murray D. Gross, has been represented by a New York attorney, Carl Kanter, Esquire, and his correspondent, Norman M. Berger, Esquire, of Philadelphia. On or about February 22, 1974, plaintiff authorized a settlement pursuant to the terms of an agreement suggested by defendant. Plaintiff's acceptance of this proposal is evidenced by a letter from Mr. Kanter to Mr. Berger which stated in part:

 
* * *
 
You are authorized as counsel to Mr. Gross to accept the settlement proposal of the defendant as set forth in the proposed settlement agreement which you forwarded with your letter of December 21, 1973 subject to the following change. In the last paragraph of Article 2 of the settlement agreement, the phrase "shall not be subject to withdrawal by Gross but" shall be inserted in the first line between the words "increased" and "shall". We desire this insertion to assure that the amounts involved in the settlement will not be currently taxable to Mr. Gross as dividends.
 
* * *
 
I am also sending this letter to Mr. Gross with the request that he confirm his agreement to the contents hereof by signing a copy of the letter and also returning it to me. I shall let both you and Mr. Gross know promptly when both of you have returned signed copies of this letter.
 
* * *

 Below and to the left of the closing of this letter, where the words "AGREED TO:" were typed, plaintiff affixed his signature. He moreover added in longhand a postscript which read:

 
P.S. It is also understood and agreed that I am to receive $2,000.00 dividends yearly for the years (5)-1974 to 1978 inclusive
 
Murray D. Gross

 A few days thereafter, March 8, 1974, in reliance on this authority, Mr. Berger reached an accord with defendant's counsel, incorporating the change requested in Mr. Kanter's letter. However, on March 20, 1974, plaintiff wrote to Mr. Kanter, stating in part:

 
* * *
 
I hereby revoke and cancel any and all previous statements and agreements of settlement, be they oral or signed by me concerning my Penn Mutual policy #1,770,900 [emphasis added]. ...

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