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JOHN W. KNAPP v. VERDEN T. KNAPP AND ROBERT G. KNAPP (07/13/79)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: July 13, 1979.

JOHN W. KNAPP, APPELLANT,
v.
VERDEN T. KNAPP AND ROBERT G. KNAPP, HER HUSBAND

No. 1108 October Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Civil Division, No. 11 October Term, 1972, in Equity.

COUNSEL

James W. Daub, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

No brief filed on behalf of appellees.

Cercone, Wieand and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 267 Pa. Super. Page 555]

Appellant in his brief makes three contentions: (1) the Adjudication and Decree Nisi of the chancellor below, and the Final Decree of the court en banc, are insufficient to allow meaningful appellate review, requiring a remand; (2) the court erred in not entering a money judgment in favor of plaintiff for amounts where liability was admitted by the defendants during the course of the litigation; and (3) the court erred in not awarding plaintiff judgment on other amounts of money damages where liability was in dispute, said decision being against the weight of the evidence. Our review of the record reveals that we cannot pass upon appellant's contentions because of the inadequacy of the adjudication below and, therefore, we remand for a more thorough and complete adjudication.

Plaintiff is the sole proprietor of two business ventures, "Knapp Brothers Building Company," and "Knapp Land Development Company" (hereinafter collectively the Company). Plaintiff was an absent owner who entrusted the day to day affairs of the Company to his brother, defendant Robert Knapp, whom he employed as managing officer. Defendant Verden Knapp, Robert's wife, while not employed by plaintiff, nevertheless actively participated in the business, helping with the books and marketing the homes which the Company constructed. The Company consistently lost large amounts of money ($50,000 in each of the

[ 267 Pa. Super. Page 556]

    five years that Robert Knapp was employed); plaintiff sought to prove that these losses resulted from the defendants' incompetence and conversion of substantial amounts of Company funds to their own personal use. The trial of plaintiff's case*fn1 lasted eleven days and consumed over 1700 pages of notes of testimony, during which time plaintiff attempted to trace literally hundreds of expenditures over a period of five years to show wrongful dispersal of Company funds by the defendants. Plaintiff was not aided by the fact that the defendants kept the Company books and records as poorly as the Company itself fared. After the trial, both sides submitted numerous detailed requests for findings of fact.

The chancellor disposed of plaintiff's case in a two-page memorandum. After plaintiff filed exceptions, the court en banc issued a one-page order denying same.*fn2 We remanded for an adjudication in compliance with Pa.R.Civ.P. 1517. Knapp v. Knapp, 241 Pa. Super. 597, 360 A.2d 670 (1976). On remand, the chancellor entered an adjudication which was correct in form, but still lacks findings of fact specifically relating to each of plaintiff's many claims. As the chancellor explained in Finding of Fact No. 21: "The Chancellor made no effort to trace each individual check, voucher, or financial transaction as to its purpose, necessity, or its relevance. To do so would require the employment of a qualified account at a tremendous cost. In view of the holding of this court, we rule the same to be unnecessary

[ 267 Pa. Super. Page 557]

    and immaterial."*fn3 After plaintiff again filed exceptions, the court en banc issued a two-page Final Decree denying same.

It appears that notwithstanding our earlier remand, the adjudication before us is not sufficiently detailed to allow appellate review of the case. If the complexity of the issues in this case requires a technical understanding of accounting, then an expert accountant should be appointed to aid the court.*fn4 In the meantime, the failure to reduce this voluminous record to specific findings of fact in relation to each of plaintiff's claims prevents meaningful appellate review of this case.*fn5 Thus, we remand to the court below for an adjudication containing specific findings of fact on all of plaintiff's claims.

Reversed and remanded.


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