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WALTON v. DARBY TOWN HOUSES

May 30, 1975

JAMES LEE WALTON and CAROLYN WALTON
v.
DARBY TOWN HOUSES, INC. d/b/a DARBY TOWN HOUSES ASSOCIATES, JOSEPH SINGER, EDWARD ROSNER and ARCHIE G. PIOTTI, individually and as District Justice of the Peace of District Court 2-5



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE

 Findings of Fact

 1. Plaintiffs James Lee Walton and Carolyn Walton currently reside at 1549 Noblet Avenue, Darby Township, Pennsylvania, in the Darby Town Houses development. Plaintiffs have occupied the dwelling located at 1549 Noblet Avenue since August 31, 1974.

 2. The Darby Town Houses development is owned and operated by the defendant Darby Town Houses Associates, a limited partnership maintaining offices at 134 North Narberth Avenue, Narberth, Pennsylvania. The housing development, consisting of 172 individual units, was built and is subsidized pursuant to Section 236 of the National Housing Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1715z-2.

 3. Defendant Joseph Singer is a limited partner of defendant Darby Town Houses Associates. The managing partner of Darby Town Houses is Edward Rosner, also a defendant herein. Archie G. Piotti is a District Justice of the Peace for District 2-5 in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Defendant Piotti maintains his office at 1050 Ashland Avenue, Darby Township, Pennsylvania.

 4. Plaintiff James Lee Walton became the resident manager of the Darby Town Houses development on or about August 31, 1974. Walton's position as resident manager was based on an oral contract of employment with Edward Rosner entered into sometime immediately prior to August 31, 1974. In consideration for his services as resident manager, Walton received a salary of $106 per week and the use and occupancy of the premises located at 1549 Noblet Avenue. Darby Town Houses Associates, through its managing partner Edward Rosner, further agreed to pay the rent and all utilities for the dwelling occupied by the Waltons.

 5. On October 30, 1974, Walton signed a lease for the above-described premises. The lease, dated October 1, 1974, was prepared and signed by Edward Rosner and/or one of his employees. The document signed by Walton and Rosner was titled "Model Form of Lease" and referred to Darby Town Houses Associates as "Landlord" and "Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Lee Walton" as "Tenant."

 6. Certain terms and provisions of the lease were not made applicable to the plaintiff. Primarily, plaintiff was not required to pay a monthly rental charge. In addition, plaintiff was not required to deposit one month's rent as security for property damage; he did not have to certify his income in order to establish the monthly rental payments and the amount of federal subsidy; and finally, the size of plaintiff's family did not qualify him for the three bedroom unit provided for him by Darby Town Houses (the Waltons have two children).

 7. As resident manager of the Darby Town Houses, Walton's duties consisted of making minor structural repairs, contracting with outside parties to have electrical and plumbing work performed, and responding to tenants' general complaints.

 9. By virtue of his position as resident manager, Walton became familiar with the complaints of tenants of Darby Town Houses concerning the defective conditions which existed throughout the development. Walton brought to the attention of Rosner and Singer what he considered to be the justified complaints of the tenants but felt that neither individual intended to take any action with respect to the complaints.

 10. The employer-employee relationship between Rosner and Walton quickly deteriorated. Walton believed that the owners of the development were not responding with sufficient promptness and resources to the complaints of the tenants. Rosner, on the other hand, felt that Walton had failed to perform the duties required of him as resident manager of the development. Walton was accused by Rosner of failing to make those repairs and alternations within the realm of his employment responsibilities and of submitting false invoices for services and materials.

 11. In late October or early November, 1974, Walton began encouraging tenants to form a tenants' organization in order to effectively pressure the owners to respond to the complaints of the tenants.

 12. On November 6, 1974, the Darby Township Commissioners held their regularly scheduled public meeting at Studevan Elementary School in Darby Township. Walton and approximately 15 tenants of Darby Town Houses development attended the Commissioners' meeting and addressed the Commissioners with respect to the conditions existing in the housing development. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Commissioners promised to have the Township inspectors and engineer inspect the development as soon as possible. The promised inspection of the Darby Town Houses by the Township engineer and inspectors took place on Friday, November 8, 1974. Both Walton and Rosner were present during the aforementioned inspection.

 13. During the first week of November, 1974, Walton contacted the Housing Management Division of the Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") agency in the Philadelphia area in reference to the conditions at the Darby Town Houses development. Prior to November 12, 1974, Walton met with Messrs. Tower and McKnight in the HUD office in Philadelphia. The purpose of the meeting was to seek HUD's assistance in correcting the conditions at the development.

 14. Under date of November 12, 1974, Rosner sent a letter to Walton, advising him that as of November 23 his employment with Darby Town Houses Associates was terminated and that he was to vacate the premises at 1549 Noblet Avenue as of December 10, 1974. Sufficient ...


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