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DAVIDA SACK v. ISABEL FEINMAN (07/14/81)

decided: July 14, 1981.

DAVIDA SACK, APPELLANT,
v.
ISABEL FEINMAN, APPELLEE



No. 7 January Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, No. 250, October Term, 1977, affirming the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, May Term, 1971, No. 5258, in Equity

COUNSEL

Fred Lowenschuss, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Harry R. Kozart, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Roberts, J., concurs in the result, believing that the issue of the propriety of awarding interest on the judgment need not be decided, as the judgment reflects an award of principal and the judgment-winner is clearly entitled to income from the principal.

Author: Nix

[ 495 Pa. Page 102]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The sole issue in this appeal is whether the Chancellor abused his discretion in denying pre-verdict interest to appellant after imposing a constructive trust on funds to which appellant was entitled and which had been at all times invested by appellee.

In a prior opinion,*fn1 this Court, after concluding that pre-verdict interest may be awarded in order to prevent unjust enrichment or to avoid injustice,*fn2 remanded the case

[ 495 Pa. Page 103]

    to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County with instructions to the Chancellor to set forth his reasons for denying pre-trial interest in this case. The Court retained jurisdiction to review the Chancellor's decision after the basis for that judgment had been set forth. On October 10, 1980 the Chancellor rendered a supplemental adjudication setting forth detailed reasons for denying pre-verdict interest to appellant.*fn3

Although the Chancellor again affirmed that appellee, acting under a power of attorney, abused her confidential relationship with the parties' mother by redeeming savings bonds belonging to the mother and placed in trust for appellant and depositing the proceeds of said bonds to her own account, he nevertheless concluded no injustice or unfair enrichment would result from a denial of pre-verdict interest. The reasons given by the Chancellor were that appellee "did not intend to harm or spite appellant," but that it was appellee's "sincere and honest conviction" that the bonds were a gift from her mother; that denial of pre-verdict interest to appellant would not result in an unjust enrichment to appellee, as she had given constant care to her mother during the mother's final illness; that the denial of pre-verdict interest would restore family harmony; and that it was unclear whether the mother intended appellant receive the interest on the bonds after the mother's death.

Because we find the Chancellor's reasons for the exercise of his discretion unpersuasive, we set aside the lower court's decree.

The Chancellor's finding of lack of malevolence on appellee's part does not alter the fact that appellee knowingly destroyed the trust ...


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