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RUBY JOHNSON v. PILGRIM MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY (02/06/81)

filed: February 6, 1981.

RUBY JOHNSON, HENRY AND LILLIAN JENKINS, ROSALIE REYNOLDS, A/K/A ROSALIE BETHEA, ANDREW DENNIS AND INSURANCE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
v.
PILGRIM MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT. RUBY JOHNSON AND HENRY AND LILLIAN JENKINS AND ROSALIE REYNOLDS, A/K/A ROSALIE BETHEA AND ANDREW DENNIS AND INSURANCE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, APPELLANT, V. PILGRIM MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY



No. 540 October Term, 1979, No. 2495 October Term, 1979, Appeal from Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, Equity, No. 2668 April Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

David N. Rosen, Philadelphia, for Pilgrim Mutual.

Alan Kear, Philadelphia, for Johnson, et al.

Hester, Wickersham and Lipez, JJ. Lipez, J., files a concurring and dissenting opinion.

Author: Hester

[ 284 Pa. Super. Page 316]

This most unusual and complex case comes before the court on the cross appeals of appellant Pilgrim Mutual Insurance Company, hereinafter sometimes "Pilgrim", and Insurance Adjustment Bureau, hereinafter sometimes "I.A.B.", from the order of the lower court dated February 27, 1979 dismissing the respective exceptions*fn1 taken from the Adjudication of the Chancellor dated November 6, 1978.

We affirm in part and reverse in part.

The facts in the instant case may be briefly summarized as follows: The individual appellees had submitted claims for fire losses to Pilgrim pursuant to individual policies of fire insurance issued to them by Pilgrim. Appellee Ruby

[ 284 Pa. Super. Page 317]

Johnson owned a home at 2208 North Colorado Street in Philadelphia which was burned on September 28, 1977. Appellees Henry Jenkins and Lillian Jenkins owned property at 4638 Hedge Street, Philadelphia, which was damaged by fire on January 12, 1978. Appellee Rosalie Reynolds, a/k/a Rosalie Bethea, was the owner of property at 2322 Madison Square, Philadelphia, which was damaged by fire on February 13, 1978. Appellee Andrew Dennis lived in appellee Reynolds' property and owned personalty which was destroyed in the February 13, 1978 fire. The other appellee, I.A.B. (also a cross-appellant), was the fire adjusting company which had been previously retained by all individual appellees to adjust their respective fire claim losses.

Appellees' Complaint in Equity was brought against appellant Pilgrim and consisted of three counts alleging, inter alia, that Pilgrim had failed to negotiate in good faith and had refused to pay the individual appellees legitimate claims because of the contractual relationship and involvement between the individual appellees and I.A.B. and further, that Pilgrim has intentionally interfered with the contractual relationships between I.A.B. and the individual appellees by sending letters directly to the individual appellees stating that the delays in settling claims was due to the individual adjusting company handling their claims and thus urging them to terminate their contractual relationships with I.A.B. and deal directly with Pilgrim.

Said Complaint in Equity sought injunctive relief against Pilgrim as well as compensatory and punitive damages for all appellees. The equitable relief sought included: (a) enjoining Pilgrim from intentionally interfering with the contractual relationships between the parties; (b) enjoining Pilgrim from communicating in any manner whatsoever directly with the individual appellees; and (c) enjoining the appellant from otherwise engaging in unfair business practices such as posting notices on its issued fire insurance policies warning its policyholders from retaining the services of a private adjusting company and sending written letters to pending claimants advising those claimants that delays in

[ 284 Pa. Super. Page 318]

    adjusting were caused by the claimants individually retaining fire adjusting companies.

In addition, all of the individual appellees as well as I.A.B., sought compensatory and punitive damages from Pilgrim.

The case was originally assigned to the Chancellor on May 1, 1978; the appellees at all times having sought a prompt final adjudication on the merits of its Complaint in Equity. Appellant filed preliminary objections which were denied on May 10, 1978. Final hearing was held on May 30, 1978 through June 2, 1978. An order of Court was entered on June 13, 1978 and the Chancellor's adjudication incorporating said Order was filed on November 6, 1978.

The Chancellor's Adjudication dated November 6, 1978 incorporated the Chancellor's earlier issued Order dated June 17, 1978, and contained the following:

1. Pilgrim was permanently enjoined from

(a) attaching to any of its fire insurance policies the "pink form"*fn2 or any other form cautioning or advising policyholders against employment of a public adjuster or other "outside parties" to represent them in enforcement of their rights under the policy.

(b) sending to any fire insurance policyholders the letter introduced into evidence*fn3 or ...


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