No. 1568 APRIL TERM, 1978, Appeal from an Order entered November 13, 1978 by the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County at No. G.D. 77-11083.
Gerald S. Lesher, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Henry E. Rea, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellees.
Price, Hester and Cavanaugh, JJ.
[ 279 Pa. Super. Page 249]
This case involves a dispute over certain real estate owned by Edward J. and Josephine A. Plocki. Thomas L. Moore, as an agent for appellants, Crossgates Realty, Inc. (hereinafter "Crossgates") was asked to negotiate a lease on behalf of Crossgates with an option to purchase the property from Mr. and Mrs. Plocki. Moore arranged several meetings with the Plocki's to which he took his wife, Constance, the appellee. As a result of these meetings, the Plocki's signed an agreement to lease the property for one year to Crossgates, which Moore signed as Crossgates' agent, and an agreement of sale between the Plocki's as sellers and Thomas and Constance Moore as purchasers. Upon learning of this agreement, the officers of Crossgates demanded that the Moores convey their interests in the property to Crossgates. Mr. Moore refused and consequently was discharged from the employ of Crossgates. Crossgates then filed a complaint in equity against Mr. and Mrs. Moore seeking to enjoin them from transferring the real estate to anyone other than appellants and an Order directing them to assign their interest in the Agreement of Sale to Crossgates.
[ 279 Pa. Super. Page 250]
After a full hearing the Chancellor found that Thomas L. Moore was an agent of Crossgates and had breached his fiduciary duty to Crossgates when he entered into the agreement of sale. The Chancellor directed Moore to assign his interest in the Plocki real estate to Crossgates. The Chancellor also found Mrs. Moore owed no duty to Crossgates and therefore did not require a transfer of her interest in the property to Crossgates. Exceptions were filed to the Chancellor's decision, which the lower court en banc affirmed. This appeal followed.
As to the involvement of Mrs. Moore, the Chancellor found the following: Mrs. Moore was employed full time by Bell Telephone Company and was, herself, a licensed real estate salesperson even though her license was being held in escrow in Harrisburg. She and her husband made other real estate investments, both being actual investors. The Chancellor noted that the testimony does not indicate that Mrs. Moore was aware that her husband was not dealing in good faith with his principal, and found that her participation was entirely that of an innocent investor who determined independently that the investment was a good one for her and her husband. Thus, the Chancellor held that Mrs. Moore was wholly innocent of any wrongdoing and that she possesses independent rights which must be protected.
The findings of a Chancellor, affirmed by the court en banc, have the effect of a jury verdict and may not be reversed unless a review of the record reveals that they are unsupported by the evidence or predicated upon erroneous inferences and deductions or errors of law. Payne v. Kassab, 468 Pa. 226, 361 A.2d 263 (1976); Sterrett v. Sterrett, 401 Pa. 583, 166 A.2d 1 (1960); Livingston v. Livingston, 275 Pa. Super. 285, 418 A.2d 724 (1980).
The appellant argues that the lower court holding as to Constance Moore should be reversed, as she should not be able to retain an interest in real estate she obtained by her husband's wrongful act despite her innocence. In support of
[ 279 Pa. Super. Page 251]
this claim, Crossgates cites Scott v. Purcell, 264 Pa. Super. 354, 399 A.2d 1088 (1979).*fn1 This case involved a situation similar to the one before us. The evidence indicated that Purcell, acting as agent for Scott, negotiated the purchase of real estate owned by a Mrs. Ferguson. The agreement of sale, however, was entered into by Ferguson as seller and Lancer Development Corporation as purchaser. Subsequently, the property was conveyed to Oaklander Associates, a limited partnership, of which ...