No. 3613 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Montgomery County, No. 74-7.
Paul Aloysius Logan, Norristown, for appellant.
George B. Ditter, Ambler, for Fudula, appellee.
George C. Corson, Jr., Norristown, for First Pa., appellee.
Cercone, President Judge, and Cavanaugh and Rowley, JJ.
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This is an appeal from a final decree in equity finding in favor of appellee The First Pennsylvania Banking and Trust Company (Bank), and requiring the payment of $23,309.48 in damages to Appellee John Fudula (Fudula) by Appellant Keystone Wire & Iron Works, Inc. (Keystone).
This is the second time this case has been before our Court on appeal. See Fudula v. Keystone Wire & Iron Works, 283 Pa. Super. 502, 424 A.2d 921 (1981) (Fudula I). In Fudula I the question of the Bank's and Keystone's liability to account to Fudula was at issue. Keystone contended that the trial court had erred in directing the reinstatement of Fudula as a member of the Keystone Pension and Retirement Plan (Plan) retroactive to 1962, and requiring a recalculation of his vested interest in the Plan together with an accounting of the sums due him. This Court, in Fudula I, affirmed the trial court and the case was returned to the Chancellor for an accounting and further proceedings. After proceeding as directed, the trial court entered a final decree as outlined above. This second appeal by Keystone followed.
The scope of review of an appellate court in the consideration of an appeal from a final decree in an equity action is well established. A Chancellor's findings of fact, approved by the court en banc, are entitled to the weight of a jury's verdict and will not be reversed on appeal if supported by adequate evidence. See McDole v. Duquesne Brewing Co. of Pittsburgh, 281 Pa. Super. 78, 83, 421 A.2d 1155, 1158 (1980), and cases cited therein. The Chancellor's findings are afforded particular weight in cases in which the credibility of witnesses must be evaluated, as the Chancellor has had the opportunity to hear their actual testimony and to observe their demeanor on
[ 317 Pa. Super. Page 529]
the witness stand. See Fascione v. Fascione, 272 Pa. Super. 530, 416 A.2d 1023 (1979). We should not reverse on appeal unless it is evident that the lower court abused its discretion, lacked evidentiary support for its findings, or was capricious in its disbelief of evidence submitted. See Davis v. Buckham, 280 Pa. Super. 106, 421 A.2d 427 (1980); Commonwealth ex rel. Powelson v. Powelson, 277 Pa. Super. 220, 222, 419 A.2d 741, 742 (1980). The same principles apply when a single judge, rather than a court en banc, reviews the case. Gilmore v. Northeast Dodge Co., Inc., 278 Pa. Super. 209, 420 A.2d 504 (1980). Therefore, we must examine the evidence of record in the instant case to determine whether any basis exists for a reversal of the lower court's findings and conclusions. Sorokin v. Krasner, 289 Pa. Super. 324, 327, 433 A.2d 88, 89-90 (1981).
On appeal Keystone raises three (3) issues. It avers that the trial court erred: (I) in finding that Fudula's interest in the Plan was 100% vested, (II) in awarding pre-judgment interest to Fudula, and (III) in "directing a verdict" in favor of the Bank. Upon review of the record, we have concluded that all three issues have ...