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HIS WORLD v. CLETO M. (10/06/77)

decided: October 6, 1977.

HIS WORLD, INC., JAMES GREGG AND JOHN WOLFE, APPELLEES,
v.
CLETO M., INC., JOSEPH MONTEMURRO, NICK MONTEMURRO, SHY MARGOLIS AND EDWARD J. OACH. APPEAL OF CLETO M., INC. AND JOSEPH MONTEMURRO



NO. 872 APRIL TERM, 1976, Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division at No. 1910 October Term, 1972

COUNSEL

Peter J. King, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

Robert H. Somerton, with him Zupancic & Somerton, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Price, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Van Der Voort

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 295]

This is an appeal from a judgment in an action of trespass for damages arising from an alleged wrongful distraint by a landlord. Judgment has been entered against appellants for $50,000 on the basis of a jury verdict awarding appellees $45,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000 in punitive damages. The jury denied appellant landlord Joseph Montemurro a recovery on a counterclaim against appellee James Gregg for rental for the balance of the term of the lease. In post-trial hearings, appellants have been denied a judgment n. o. v., a new trial and a requested remittitur of any judgment in excess of $10,000.

On July 1, 1970, appellant Joseph Montemurro entered into a three year lease with appellee James Gregg for premises known as 1801 Yancey Street in the Morningside district of Pittsburgh. The leased premises were divided

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 296]

    into front and back rooms with a separate outside entrance to each. Appellees James Gregg and John Wolfe, operating in the name of His World, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation which they owned, maintained a men's hair salon in the front room where they sold men's hair pieces and wigs. Operating as a partnership, they maintained a women's beauty shop known as Gregg's Coiffures in the rear room of the premises.

At approximately the end of the first week in October, 1971, appellees ceased doing business at the leased premises on Yancey Street and closed and locked the property without notice or explanation to Joseph Montemurro, the landlord. James Gregg, who had operated the women's beauty parlor on the premises, arranged with such of his women clients as were willing to do so to transfer their patronage to him at a beauty parlor operated by Gregory Marcello on North Craig Street in the Oakland district of Pittsburgh. Marcello's beauty parlor was known as Gregory's Coiffures. During the month of October, 1971, Gregg succeeded in transferring approximately forty percent of his women clients to Gregory's Coiffures where Gregg served them as a beautician. Additional clients followed Gregg to his new location in succeeding weeks.

In the latter part of October, 1971, there came to Montemurro's attention two ads in the "East Liberty Gazette". One read as follows:

"Mr. Gregg of Stanton Heights

One of Pittsburgh's Finest Hairstylists

Would Like to Invite All His Customers and Friends to His New Location

Gregory's Coiffures

214 North Craig Street -- Phone: ...


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