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VIRGINIA PULLI v. WARREN NATIONAL BANK (06/01/79)

decided: June 1, 1979.

VIRGINIA PULLI, APPELLANT,
v.
WARREN NATIONAL BANK, EXECUTOR UNDER THE WILL OF THE ESTATE OF FRANKLIN R. HENRY, DECEASED, APPELLEE



No. 60 March Term 1978, Appeal from the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of the Thirty-Seventh Judicial District, Warren County Branch, Orphans' Court Division, at No. 44 of 1977

COUNSEL

Richard A. Leuthold, Warren, for appellant.

G. Donald Gerlach, Robert W. Watson, Jr., Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 488 Pa. Page 195]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Virginia Pulli [Pulli] filed a complaint in the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Warren County in April 1977 seeking money damages from

[ 488 Pa. Page 196]

    the Estate of Franklin R. Henry, deceased, for failure of the decedent to devise certain realty to her and to make other bequests in her favor in his last will and testament as he had orally promised during his lifetime.

After the pleadings were closed, the Estate moved for judgment in its favor on the pleadings. Later, the court filed an adjudication and decree nisi granting the motion. Exceptions to the decree nisi were later dismissed, and a final decree was entered in favor of the Estate, Pulli filed this appeal.

Since the case is before us on the pleadings, for the purpose of review, we must accept as true the factual allegations of Pulli's complaint. Nicolella v. Palmer, 432 Pa. 502, 248 A.2d 20 (1968). Pulli was employed by decedent as a housekeeper for wages. During September 1967, the decedent made a further offer of employment in which he promised that, if Pulli would become his housekeeper in residence, go with him to his second residence in Texas, take care of him until he died, and help him with his alcoholism, then he would provide for her financially so that she would never have to work again. Pulli accepted this offer and performed the duties outlined by decedent. In May 1972, over five years later, decedent told Pulli he would arrange by his will for her to receive his residence property in Texas; a life estate in his Pennsylvania residence, surrounding grounds and contents; and, an annual income sufficient for her to live comfortably in the two homes for the rest of her life. Late in June 1973, decedent directed Pulli to check with his attorney to see that all necessary steps had been taken to effectuate the plans, and Pulli learned no steps had been taken. On July 10, 1973, Pulli, decedent, and decedent's attorney met, and the attorney was directed to prepare a will substantially in accord with decedent's promises. Decedent died on July 26, 1973, without having signed the will. Pulli did receive and accept a bequest of twenty-five thousand ($25,000) dollars under the terms of a will by decedent dated May 1968.

[ 488 Pa. Page 197]

It further appears in the pleadings that in November 1973, Pulli filed a complaint in equity against the executor of the decedent's estate and three testamentary heirs of the decedent seeking specific performance of the contract she allegedly entered with the decedent. In that case, preliminary objections by the defendants in the nature of a demurrer were sustained. The court held Pulli had not stated a cause of action because the contract she alleged was within the Statute of Frauds. This Court affirmed per curiam. Pulli v. Warren National Bank, Peterson, Elliott & Elliott, ...


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