Nos. 82 and 86 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal of: West Penn Administration, Inc. at No. 82 Pittsburgh 1980, Appeal of: Pittsburgh National Bank at No. 86 Pittsburgh 1980, Appeal from Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, October Term, 1972, No. 3547.
George E. McGrann, Pittsburgh, for West Penn, et al., appellants (at No. 82) and appellees (at No. 86).
Richard B. Tucker, III, Pittsburgh, for Pittsburgh National, appellant (at No. 86) and appellee (at No. 82).
Stephen A. George, Pittsburgh, for Union National, et al., appellees.
Price, Cavanaugh and Hoffman, JJ.
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This appeal arises out of an action in trespass and assumpsit brought to recover damages caused by an embezzlement. Appellants, West Penn Administration, Inc. and its constituent trustees, trusts and unincorporated associations [hereinafter West Penn], commenced this action on September 26, 1972, by filing a writ of summons against Pittsburgh National
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Bank [hereinafter PNB]. West Penn filed a complaint on June 16, 1975 seeking to recover from PNB losses allegedly incurred through PNB's negligent payment of checks bearing PNB's forged endorsement. PNB asserted, inter alia, that West Penn lacked standing to institute this action. On May 21, 1979 PNB filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings based upon West Penn's alleged lack of standing, to which West Penn replied that it had acquired standing through an assignment. West Penn then filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings on Count I of its complaint, which sought recovery for twenty-one checks on which PNB was both the payee and the drawee. Following a hearing the trial court entered an order granting the motion of PNB and denying that of West Penn. On January 28, 1980, West Penn appealed the trial court's order.
Shortly after this action was commenced, PNB joined appellee The Union National Bank of Pittsburgh [hereinafter Union National], McRandal Brothers, Inc., Chrisal, Inc., A.J.A., Inc. and John F. Miller as additional defendants. PNB alleged that Union National was liable to PNB for any loss it sustained on the basis of Union National's neligent acceptance of the deposits and Union National's guarantee of prior endorsements. Union National then moved for summary judgment, contending that the action was barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel. Following a hearing Union National's motion was granted and PNB's appeal ensued. The appeals of West Penn and PNB have been consolidated for our review.
The following are the pertinent facts.*fn1 West Penn Administration, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation engaged in administering the pension and welfare trusts of the other appellants.*fn2 The trusts were established pursuant to collective bargaining agreements between certain employers in
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the construction industry and union representatives. The agreements required the parties to periodically submit "Employer Contribution Reports" listing their employees and the benefits each employee had accrued during that period. Checks for the aggregate amount due for employee benefits were to accompany the reports. Approximately ninety per cent of the reports and checks were mailed directly to West Penn. West Penn would process the checks and then deposit them in one of the four employee contribution accounts it had established with PNB in 1964.*fn3 The ...