Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Warren County, Nov. T., 1969, No. 62, in case of Tony L. Notoro and Norma L. Notoro v. The Estate of I. G. Hyer a/k/a Irvine Goodrich Hyer.
Bernard J. Hessley, for appellants.
Frank G. McKnight, for appellee.
Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Cercone, J.
[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 12]
Before us is an appeal from an order of the court below granting the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings in an ejectment action. The sole issue is what effect if any a judgment rendered in a previous action between these parties has upon their instant litigation. The relevant facts may be summarized as follows.
On December 21, 1955, the plaintiffs, Tony and Norma Notoro (appellants herein), acquired title to 165 acres of land located in Clarendon, Warren County, Pennsylvania. Title was conveyed by a quitclaim deed from the heirs of one C. R. Elston.*fn1 Included among this 165 acres is a lot measuring 30 feet by 170 feet and upon which a house known as 15 Brown Avenue was erected. Ownership of this portion of the 165 acres is the subject of the instant litigation.
Prior to his death in early 1955, Dr. I. G. Hyer, whose estate is the defendant-appellee herein, was entrusted with managing the affairs of the estate of C. R. Elston for the benefit of the Elston heirs of the third and
[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 13]
fourth generation. Dr. Hyer functioned in a fiduciary capacity toward the Elston heirs. In 1920, Dr. Hyer and two associates organized the Clarendon Improvement Company. These three individuals purchased homes in an abandoned lumber town, dismantled the houses, and then transported the lumber to Clarendon where they constructed several homes. One of the homes was erected on the property now known as 15 Brown Avenue. However, no deed exists conveying the property at 15 Brown Avenue out of the Elston heirs or into Dr. Hyer. Nevertheless, Dr. Hyer rented out the house at 15 Brown Avenue for approximately 25 years, and never made any accounting to the Elston heirs for the rents he received.
Following Dr. Hyer's death, his executor filed a final account which included, among net assets and balance for distribution, the property known as 15 Brown Avenue. The Notoros responded by filing a claim against the estate for rents collected on the subject property for 25 years, at the rate of $20.00 per month or a total of $6,000.00. The executor of Dr. Hyer's estate denied liability and the Notoros instituted suit in the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Warren County.*fn2 By opinion dated August 22, 1969, the Honorable Alexander C. Flick, Jr. denied the Notoros' claim. No appeal was taken from that decision. On December 12, 1969, however, the Notoros filed a complaint in ejectment*fn3 against the estate of Dr. Hyer. In this second action the Notoros sought to recover possession of the premises known as 15 Brown Avenue together with a decree that title thereto was vested in them. At the close of the pleadings the defendant-estate moved for judgment on the pleadings contending, inter alia, that Judge Flick's decision in the first action was res judicata as to this second ejectment action. On January 13, 1975, the Honorable Robert L. Wolfe,
[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 14]
President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Warren County concluded that Judge Flick's decision in the first action was in fact res judicata as to this second action. From the denial of the Notoros' exceptions ...