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REGINA G. FRENCHAK v. SUNBEAM COAL CORPORATION (07/19/85)

filed: July 19, 1985.

REGINA G. FRENCHAK, FORMERLY REGINA G. GARING, APPELLANT,
v.
SUNBEAM COAL CORPORATION



No. 01440 Pittsburgh, 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Butler County, Civil Division, at Equity No. 82-028, Book 24, Page 28.

COUNSEL

Darrell L. Kadunce, Butler, for appellant.

Leo M. Stepanian, Butler, for appellee.

Brosky, Watkins and Hester, JJ. Hester, J., files a concurring statement.

Author: Brosky

[ 344 Pa. Super. Page 39]

This appeal is from judgment on the pleadings in an action to quiet title. Appellant contends that the instant coal lease is no longer in effect. We agree and, accordingly, reverse.

The lease provision in question provides that:

This lease shall continue for a period of five (5) years from the effective date hereof or until all of the coal which the coal operator determines can be mined, removed and sold with economy and profit has been or so long as minimum advance royalties are being tendered by the Coal Operator.

The court below interpreted this clause to mean that appellee could continue to have the lease in effect indefinitely into the future by virtue of paying minimum advance royalties. Indeed, the instant lease has been in effect for ten years and no coal has ever been mined. We cannot accept this construction of the lease.

The lease provides for termination upon the happening of three events: (1) Passage of five years; (2) Determination by the coal operator that no more coal can be mined, removed, and sold profitably; (3) Cessation of payment of

[ 344 Pa. Super. Page 40]

    minimum advance royalties by the coal operator. By providing, however, for termination upon the happening of (1) " or " (2) " or " (3), the lease must be interpreted as meaning that it shall terminate upon the happening of any one of the three conditions.

Words are to be given their obvious and plain meaning unless the intention is clear that a different meaning is required. Davis v. City of Philadelphia, 153 Pa. Super. 645, 650, 35 A.2d 77, 80 (1943). The pertinent dictionary definition of "or" is "choice between alternative things, ...


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