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PRINCETON SPORTSWEAR CORPORATION v. H & M ASSOCIATES (11/09/84)

filed: November 9, 1984.

PRINCETON SPORTSWEAR CORPORATION
v.
H & M ASSOCIATES, SIDNEY BECKER AND LEONARD BECKER, APPELLANTS



No. 01898 PHL 83, Appeal from the Order entered July 1, 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, at No. 762 April Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Robert H. Malis, Philadelphia, for appellants.

Lewis Kates, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Spaeth, President Judge, and Beck and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 383]

This is an appeal from an order entering judgment in favor of appellee-lessee and against appellants-lessors in the amount of $600,000.00. Because we find that certain clauses in the lease agreement exculpate appellants from liability for damages allegedly sustained by appellee, we reverse the order below.

Pursuant to the terms of a May 2, 1973 lease agreement, appellee, Princeton Sportswear Corp., became a third floor tenant of Building No. 12 of a Philadelphia industrial complex known as the "Hardwick and McGee Complex" (H & M Complex). This complex was owned by appellant H & M Associates, a partnership formed by appellants Leonard and Sidney Becker. The lease was executed by appellee's president, Morton Fischer, and by Leonard Becker on behalf of H & M Associates (then known as Man-Tex Clothes, the predecessor-in-interest to H & M Associates); consisted of a

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 384]

    form lease submitted by appellants and an addendum prepared by appellee's counsel; and provided for a two-year tenancy commencing July 1, 1973 with two options to extend the term exercisable by the lessee.

On March 30, 1978, approximately ten months after appellee had exercised its second option to extend the lease for five years, a fire of unknown origin occurred at the H & M Complex, destroying the power center and thereby depriving appellee of heat, electricity and water.*fn1 Subsequently, appellants in an April 4, 1978 letter, terminated the lease, as extended, pursuant to its terms but allowed appellee to remain on the premises on a month-to-month basis.*fn2 Appellee responded on April 5, 1978 by filing a petition for a preliminary injunction and a complaint in equity against appellants (1) seeking to compel appellants to restore electrical service to Building No. 12, (2) alleging appellants' intentional breach of the lease by refusing to repair the demised premises, and (3) demanding compensatory and punitive damages. Two days later, at a conference prior to a hearing on appellee's request for a mandatory injunction, the parties entered into a stipulation whereby appellants agreed to allow appellee to make arrangements with Philadelphia

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 385]

Electric Company for restoring electricity to Building No. 12 without prejudice to appellee's right to seek reimbursement from appellants for the expenses incurred. Although temporary electrical service was restored by the end of April, 1978, appellee found that the electrical, heat, security and sprinkler services remained inadequate and, consequently, moved its entire operation to a new location in October, 1978.

Following a final hearing on appellee's complaint, the lower court entered an adjudication on March 14, 1983, finding in appellee's favor in the amount of $600,000.00. Appellants subsequently filed ...


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