Appeal from the Order entered May 8, 1984 in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Civil Division, at No. 80-10309-12-1
John J. Hart, Doylestown, for appellant.
James D. Coleman, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Cavanaugh, Olszewski and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 347 Pa. Super. Page 479]
This is an appeal from the lower court's order granting appellee a new trial. While we agree that a new trial is warranted because of an erroneous jury charge and, accordingly, affirm the court's order, upon retrial the jury should be charged in accordance with this opinion.
In October, 1980, appellee, Loos & Dilworth, Inc., brought this action in assumpsit against appellant, Quaker State Oil Refining Corporation, seeking damages for appellant's alleged wrongful termination of a written distributor agreement between them. Appellee alleged that appellant failed to "act in good faith and in a commercially reasonable manner as required by law . . . ." (Appellee's Complaint
[ 347 Pa. Super. Page 480]
para. 14 at 4).*fn1 A jury trial was held in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County on December 12-19, 1983. Prior to its deliberations, the presiding judge submitted to the jury the following special interrogatories:
1. Do you find that the relationship between [appellee] and [appellant] was one of franchisee-franchisor?
(If the answer to Question No. 1 is "NO", then you should find for [appellant], and you need not proceed to Questions No. 2 and No. 3.)
2. (Answer this question only if the answer to Question No. 1 is "YES".)
Do you find that [appellant's] termination of its relationship with [appellee] was arbitrary, in bad faith, and not commercially reasonable?
(If the answer to Question No. 2 is "NO", then you should find for [appellant] and you need not proceed to Question No. 3.)
3. (Answer this question only if the answers to Questions No. 1 and 2 are "YES".)
What is the total amount of damages suffered by [appellee] as a result of the termination of its relationship with [appellant]?
The jury answered "yes" to question one and "no" to question two, thus finding for appellant. See N.T., Verdict, December 19, 1983 at 2. Appellee thereupon moved for a new trial, arguing that the court's charge to the jury, i.e., that it must find that appellant's termination ...