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BOOK METALS CORPORATION v. SITKIN SMELTING & REFINING (04/13/78)

decided: April 13, 1978.

BOOK METALS CORPORATION
v.
SITKIN SMELTING & REFINING, INC. (SUCCESSOR TO SITKIN METAL TRADING, INC.), APPELLANT



No. 177 March Term 1977, Appeal from the Order Dated June 30, 1976 of the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County, Pa., Civil Action - Law Division at No. 407 May Term, 1974.

COUNSEL

John C. Howett, Jr., Harrisburg, with him Richard M. Mohler, Lewistown, for appellant.

R. L. Gingrich, Lewistown, with him Albert Houck, Lewistown, for appellee.

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

Author: Spaeth

[ 254 Pa. Super. Page 22]

This is an appeal from summary judgment.

Book Metals Corp. sued Sitkin Smelting & Refining Co. for failure to pay in full for some scrap metal sold by Book to Sitkin in September, 1973. Book alleged that the balance due was $22,600. Sitkin in its answer and counterclaim admitted the balance due but claimed a setoff of $22,200 which Sitkin alleged arose in early 1973, when a check for that amount given by Book to Sitkin in payment of a debt

[ 254 Pa. Super. Page 23]

    had "bounced" twice, with no payment to Sitkin ever resulting.

Book replied, denying the setoff and attaching an agreement, dated July 18, 1973, by which Sitkin assigned to one Natalie Jacobs "all monies and claims due the assignor from Book," for consideration of $15,000. Thus, Book alleged, its obligation to make good the dishonored check was owed to Jacobs, not Sitkin.

Sitkin in its counter-reply alleged that the assignment did not in fact transfer to Jacobs the right to collect the $22,200. In support, it attached part of a debt composition agreement, dated July 18, 1973 (the same day as the assignment to Jacobs), by which Book had agreed with its creditors on new debt payment schedules. The agreement said that the total amount Book still owed Sitkin was $30,000. According to Sitkin: this total amount did not include the $22,200 value of the dishonored check; since the assignment was contemporaneous with the agreement, the assignment should be held to affect only the amount of debt referred to in the agreement; therefore, the right to collect the $22,200 had not been transferred to Jacobs but remained in Sitkin.

Both parties moved for summary judgment. The lower court held that parol evidence could not be introduced by Sitkin to vary or explain either the assignment or the debt composition agreement, and entered summary judgment for Book. This appeal followed.

Sitkin argues that the assignment is vague or ambiguous and that therefore parol evidence is admissible to show what the parties meant by the word "all" in the provision that "all monies and claims" due Sitkin from Book were assigned to Jacobs. However, the assignment does not appear to us to be vague. See Cannon v. Bresch, 307 Pa. 31, 34, 160 A. 595, 596 (1932) ("[T]he word 'all' needs no definition . . . ."); Tate-Jones & Co. v. Union Elec. Steel Co., 281 Pa. 448, 126 A. 813 (1924) (word having common or generally accepted ordinary meaning is supposed to ...


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