NO. 1888 PHILADELPHIA, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division-Equity, of Philadelphia County, at No. 4847 February Term, 1979.
Arnold L. Wainstein, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Lewis Kates, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Price, Montemuro and Van der Voort, JJ.
[ 300 Pa. Super. Page 361]
This is a dispute between an aged mother, Mary Matkowski, and her daughter, Sabina Stefanik, plaintiff-appellee, with her son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Anna Matkowski, defendants-appellants, over title to the house in which the mother and daughter have lived since 1950. The mother conveyed title to the property to her son in 1975 under circumstances which the mother and daughter contend amounted to fraud and the exercise of undue influence by the son while in a position of trust and confidence with his mother. The lower Court sustained this contention and ordered reconveyance of the property to the mother. The son and daughter-in-law have appealed from that Order. A review of the record leads us to affirm the ruling of the lower Court.
The plaintiff-appellee in this litigation is Sabina Stefanik, the daughter, who occupies the second floor of the disputed property. Mrs. Stefanik is 56 years of age and the mother of two grown sons. She is afflicted with cerebral palsy and is a paraplegic confined to a wheel chair. She brought suit on behalf of her mother, Mary Matkowski, who signed an Affidavit to the daughter's Complaint in Equity in which she consented to the action and averred that the facts set forth in the Complaint were true and correct.
At the conclusion of the appellee's case in the Court below, the appellants moved for dismissal of the Complaint on the ground that the appellee did not have standing to bring the action and that Mary Matkowski, the mother, was a necessary party plaintiff. The Court reserved judgment. At the conclusion of all the testimony, the appellee and her mother
[ 300 Pa. Super. Page 362]
filed a joint Petition requesting permission to add the mother as an additional party plaintiff. The Court below ruled on neither of these Motions. The appellee and her mother renewed their Petition in this Court for the joinder of Mary Matkowski as an additional party plaintiff/appellee.
Mary Matkowski has participated in this case from its inception, first by Affidavit in support of the Complaint and then by testimony at the trial. Her testimony has been subjected to cross-examination by the appellants and they will be prejudiced in no way by joining her as a plaintiff/appellee at this time. Consequently, we have this day entered an Order adding Mary Matkowski as a party plaintiff/appellee in this action, nunc pro tunc, pursuant to authority vested in us by P.R.C.P. 2232(c) and sustained by decisions of our Supreme Court extending back over 100 years. Dodd v. Stewart, 276 Pa. 225, 229, 120 A.2d 120 (1933); Hewitt v. Democratic Publishing Co., 271 Pa. 546, 549, 115 A. 838 (1922); and Patton v. Pittsburgh-Cincinnati-St. Louis Railway Co., 96 Pa. 169, 173-4, (1880).
Mary Matkowski, the mother, was 79 years of age when the conveyance to the appellants was made on March 10, 1975. At that time, she was recovering from a serious case of influenza and had been ill for approximately a month prior to that date. The mother is of Ukranian extraction and speaks the Polish language. She is unable to read, write or speak the English language and her comprehension of it when spoken to in English is slight and quite imperfect. She is the mother of three children, Sabina, the appellee, Tom, the appellant and Emilian, a son who plays no role in this litigation.
A short time prior to the execution of the deed, Mary Matkowski testified that she asked her son, Thomas Matkowski, to help her take care of the home property while she was ill and that he agreed to do so. He testified that she said she wanted to give him the property. Thomas Matkowski followed up on his mother's request by engaging a neighborhood realtor ...