Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, No. GD 84-10658. Appeal from Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, No. GD 85-1046.
James R. Cooney, Pittsburgh, for Richards, appellant in No. 1165.
Paul G. Mayer, Jr., Pittsburgh, for Nernberg, appellant in No. 1602.
Michael Louik, Pittsburgh, for appellee in Nos. 1165 and 1602.
James R. Farley, Pittsburgh, for Davis and Abramovitz, appellees in No. 1602.
Wieand, Kelly and Popovich, JJ.
[ 371 Pa. Super. Page 272]
Presently before the Court for review are summary judgments entered in separate actions, both of which were spawned by a disputed real estate transaction. Except for a common factual background, the issues are different and must be considered separately.
Austin J. Richards, Inc. v. Violet I. McClafferty
Violet I. McClafferty retained the services of the law firm of Davis and Abramovitz to assist her in selling real estate known as No. 719 Bellefonte Street, Pittsburgh. The employment of counsel was general, however, and there was no written agreement which defined the duties or authority of the lawyers to act on McClafferty's behalf. McClafferty's asking price was $44,000.00. Austin J. Richards, Inc., a corporation engaged in making real estate investments, made a written offer to Abramovitz to purchase the premises for $36,000.00. McClafferty rejected the offer. However, she made a counter-offer via an agreement of sale, which she had signed, reciting the price to be $40,000.00. Richards did not accept this counter-offer. However, Maurice A. Nernberg, the sole shareholder in the Richards corporation, spoke with Davis -- Abramovitz was then out of town -- and suggested that Richards would be willing to pay $38,500.00 for the premises provided that certain changes were made in the terms of the written agreement which had been submitted. Nernberg testified in depositions that
[ 371 Pa. Super. Page 273]
Davis told him the price and amended terms were satisfactory. Later on the same day, Nernberg changed the price to $38,500.00 and made other changes in the written agreement of sale. He then initialed the changes and signed the agreement. Davis did not initial the changes or sign the agreement but told Nernberg that the altered agreement would have to be submitted to McClafferty. By the time the altered agreement was presented to McClafferty for review, she had received an offer from Infil Corporation to purchase the real estate for $44,000.00. McClafferty elected to accept the Infil offer, and a written agreement of sale was drafted and executed. She rejected the Richards corporation's offer of $38,500.00.
Richards then commenced an action against McClafferty for breach of contract. By way of defense, McClafferty denied the existence of any agreement to sell to Richards, denied that her attorneys had had authority to accept the Richards offer on her behalf, and alleged an affirmative statute of frauds defense that Davis had not had written authority to bind her to sell the real estate for $38,500.00. After discovery had been ...