Charles Weiss, Chester R. Babst, Thorp, Reed & Armstrong, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
David K. McMullin, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
We deal in this appeal with whether a party who has moved for judgment non obstante veredicto waives its right to appellate review of a denial of that motion when the party fails to request the trial court to charge in accordance with the legal standard which the moving party later seeks to have applied in judging the sufficiency of the evidence.
In 1971, appellee, Richard Broxie, sued appellant, Household Finance Company ["Household"], in trespass for damages arising from Broxie's dismissal as an employee of the United States Post Office. The dismissal had been caused, allegedly, by appellant advising the Post Office by means of letters and telephone calls that Broxie had made numerous defaults in the repayment of a loan to Household. It was not alleged in the complaint, nor was there any proof at trial, that Household actually intended to cause Broxie's dismissal. At the close of the evidence Household made a timely request for binding instructions,*fn1 which was denied. The jury was instructed, instead, that although there was no evidence of actual
intent on Household's part to bring about Broxie's dismissal, the jury could find for Broxie on his claim for intentional interference with contractual relations if Household knew or should have known that Broxie's discharge was certain or substantially certain to result from Household's actions. Household neither objected to the court's charge on the issue of specific intent*fn2 nor offered a point for charge on that issue. The jury returned a verdict for Broxie. Appellant's motions for judgment non obstante veredicto and for a new trial were denied by a court en banc.
Household's appeal to the Superior Court ultimately resulted in an affirmance of the judgment of the trial court. Broxie v. Household Finance Company, 232 Pa. Super. 431, 335 A.2d 823 (1975).*fn3 In that appeal, the Superior Court did not reach the merits of the issue raised by Household as to the definition of specific intent in the tort of intentional interference with contractual relations. Rather, the court ruled that Household's failure
to object to the trial court's charge on the element of intent constituted a waiver of the issue. This Court then granted Household's petition for allowance of appeal.*fn4 We affirm.
The first issue for decision is whether the Superior Court erred in holding that appellant's failure to take exception to the trial court's charge on the element of intent in the tort of intentional interference with contractual relations constituted a waiver of its right to appellate review of the trial court's ...