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SAMUEL TRACHTENBURG AND CELIA TRACHTENBURG v. SIBARCO STATIONS (04/28/78)

decided: April 28, 1978.

SAMUEL TRACHTENBURG AND CELIA TRACHTENBURG, HIS WIFE, IRWIN A. SARON AND MIRIAM SARON, HIS WIFE, HERMAN SARON AND IDWONA SARON, HIS WIFE,
v.
SIBARCO STATIONS, INC., APPELLANT. LUDWIG BAUM AND MARGARETE BAUM, HIS WIFE, V. SIBARCO STATIONS, INC., APPELLANT. JACOB HEPPS AND MARY HEPPS, HIS WIFE, AND SAMUEL W. HEPPS AND FLORENCE R. HEPPS, HIS WIFE, V. SIBARCO STATIONS, INC., APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Wright & Rundle, George I. Minch, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Lawrence W. Kaplan, Paul H. Titus, Jon G. Hogue, Kaufman & Harris, Pittsburgh, for appellees at No. 113.

Nick C. King, Pittsburgh, for appellees at No. 114.

J. Jerome Mansmann, McVerry, Baxter, Cindrich, Loughren & Mansmann, Pittsburgh, for appellees at No. 115.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Eagen, C. J., dissents.

Author: Manderino

[ 477 Pa. Page 519]

OPINION

Appellant, Sibarco Stations, Inc., entered into agreements with appellees to purchase contiguous parcels of real estate in Homestead, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of constructing a service station. The purchase of each parcel was contingent, inter alia ; upon the consummation of all the purchases;

[ 477 Pa. Page 520]

    upon the premises being free and clear of all leases; and upon appellant's receipt of the necessary permits for construction. Nearly six months after accepting appellees' offer, but before a closing date was agreed upon, appellant informed appellees it was canceling the agreement because it was unable to obtain the permits necessary to construct a gasoline service station.

Each of the appellees filed a complaint in equity asking for specific performance of the contracts of sale. Some of the appellees also sought money damages for loss of rental income, maintenance costs, and certain demolition costs. Appellant filed preliminary objections to each of the complaints on the ground that equity jurisdiction should not obtain because appellees sought money damages only and had a complete and adequate remedy at law.

The three cases were eventually consolidated for trial, and on January 21, 1975, Judge Louik, sitting as Chancellor, issued a decree ordering specific performance of the contracts. In addition, those appellees who had sought damages were awarded damages plus interest. The Superior Court affirmed per curiam. 238 Pa. Super. 727, 356 A.2d 819 (1976). We granted appellant's petition for allowance of appeal and this appeal followed. (All three cases were consolidated for oral argument and are before us on this appeal).

Appellant raises five assignments of error in this appeal. Appellant first renews its jurisdictional challenge, arguing that appellees have an adequate remedy at law and hence the case should have been certified to the law side of the Court. Appellant's second claim is that the Chancellor improperly interpreted the sales contract. Appellant contends that it was entitled to cancel the sales agreement because the agreement required only that appellant apply for a building permit, which was denied. Third, appellant argues that because the Trachtenburgs' property was encumbered by a lease, and the ...


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