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decided: June 29, 1977.


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Family Division at Docket No. 178 April Term, 1972, dated October 21, 1976.


Robert Raphael, Pittsburgh, with him Raphael, Sheinberg & Barmen, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

George Shorall, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, and Spaeth, JJ. Van der Voort, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Spaeth, J., concurs in the result. Price, J., dissents.

Author: Hoffman

[ 249 Pa. Super. Page 81]

Appellant contends that the lower court erred in sustaining appellee's objections to the master's recommendation that the action be dismissed and in granting a divorce a.v.m.*fn1 We affirm the lower court's decree.

On June 20, 1947, appellant-wife and appellee-husband were married in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The parties resided in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County. They have four children, two of whom still reside with appellant. On January 13, 1972, appellee filed a complaint in divorce a.v.m. on the grounds of indignities. On May 12, 1974, the lower court appointed a master who conducted hearings on April 22, 1975, and May 12, 1975. Appellee testified as follows: the parties began suffering problems shortly after their marriage. These difficulties intensified during 1965 through 1971 so that life with appellant became intolerable and he left the marital abode in September, 1971, and never lived with appellant again. Appellant constantly derided appellee in the presence of their children and friends by referring to him as a lowly truck driver and a hearse driver.*fn2 Appellant demeaned appellee by stating that he had an inferior education and occupation. In addition to humiliating appellee in front of business associates, she cursed and derided him at the supper table. Appellee, who has a pilot's license, often flew small planes for business purposes. Appellant frequently wished for his death and told appellee that she wished that he would hit a mountain on the way back and that she prayed that the plane would crash. Further, appellant repeatedly told appellee to leave the house and expressed

[ 249 Pa. Super. Page 82]

    the wish that she were big and strong enough to throw him out. Appellant also constantly ridiculed appellee's family lineage by saying that he was "shit" and that he came from "shit". Appellant referred to appellee's father as an idiot with a cigar in his mouth and to his mother as a deaf mute. Appellant called appellee a "meal ticket". Appellee stated that this constant humiliation and derision caused him great embarrassment and undermined his normal good health to the extent that he was unable to pass the physical examination required to retain his pilot's license due to hypertension. He consulted a physician who advised appellee to leave the home whenever appellant began to nag him. Appellee testified that appellant was completely irresponsible with money and squandered it on luxuries. Because appellant did not prepare meals regularly or clean the house, appellee was forced to hire a maid. Appellee stated that appellant did not bathe herself nor did she clean her clothes. Appellant's daily cycle did not correspond to appellee's. She stayed up almost all night when appellee was asleep and she slept all day. Appellee alleged that appellant openly consorted with another man, Simon Goldfield. Finally appellee stated that he provided all the material items that his family required. Appellee could no longer tolerate the continued harassment by appellant and, in September 1971, after a fight with appellant in which she told him to leave, he moved out of the marital home.

Two other witnesses testified for appellee. His sister stated that the parties' home was unkept and that dishes were always piled in the sink. The family maid, Cheerful Clanagan, testified that appellant frequently nagged appellee while they were eating supper and called him a "bum" or a "half-baked bum".

Appellant testified to a somewhat different version of events. Appellant denied that she was extravagant and further stated that she did clean the house and prepare meals regularly. Appellant admits that she told appellee to drop dead, and that she called him a truck driver. She further admits that she used obscenities and told appellee

[ 249 Pa. Super. Page 83]

    that he was "shit" and that he came from "shit". Appellant acknowledged that she told appellee that she hoped his plane would crash and asked him why he didn't just leave the house. She also testified that she called appellee a meal ticket. She denied humiliating appellee in public and she attempted to excuse her conduct by stating that it occurred during arguments and that the remarks were comical. Appellant stated that in 1970, appellee began to see another woman, Gail Lockhart, and that she is the reason that appellee left appellant. Appellant ...

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