Girard Trust Bank v. Sweeney

Decision Date29 June 1967
Citation426 Pa. 324,231 A.2d 407
PartiesGIRARD TRUST BANK, Successor by merger to the National Bank of Narberth v. Francis X. SWEENEY and Barbara Sweeney. Appeal of Barbara SWEENEY.
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

Fronefield Crawford, Crawford & Frazier, Wayne, for appellant.

Elmer L. Menges, Ambler, Francis J. Lynch, Upper Darby, for appellee.



O'BRIEN, Justice.

The defendant, Barbara Sweeney, plaintiff in the counter claim, filed exceptions to the decision of the court below, filed April 7, 1966, which entered a finding in her behalf in the net amount of $4,644.26, with interest from March 12, 1959. On the 6th of July, 1966, the exceptions of Barbara Sweeney were dismissed, and the decision of the court below was affirmed. This appeal followed.

In December of 1956, Girard Trust Bank, (successor by merger to the National Bank of Narberth) (Girard Trust), engaged in a number of loan transactions with Francis X. Sweeney and Barbara Sweeney, then husband and wife. These loans, four in number: January 17, 1957, $5,000.; May 3, 1957, $3,000.; September 27, 1957,.$19,000.; September 17, 1957, 9,000.; were evidenced by judgment notes executed by both Sweeneys, and collateral in the form of stock, consisting of 50 shares of A.T. & T. stock, registered in both names; and 936 shares of Ex-Cell-O Corporation stock, 150 shares of which were subsequently released, leaving 786 shares. 200 shares of the Ex-Cell-O stock were registered in the name of Barbara Sweeney, alone, and the remaining shares in both names. The $9,000. loan of September 17, 1957, which was entered of record on September 26, 1957, the actual loan being made on September 27, 1957, contained the following provision: 'As security for this note, either matured or unmatured, the holder hereof shall continuously have a lien upon any and all funds, stocks, bonds, notes, money or other property, at any time in its custody.'

Some time thereafter, the Sweeneys were separated. On March 5, 1959, Mr. Sweeney, by letter to Mr. Carl Metzger, Executive Vice President of Girard Trust, requested, in essence, that the bank liquidate all of the collateral stock, pay off all loans, with the exception of the $9,000. note upon which judgment had been entered, and which was a lien against 2 Radnor Township properties, and remit the excess proceeds from the sale of the securities to him. Girard Trust followed these instructions, and on March 12, 1959, remitted to Francis X. Sweeney, alone, a check for the excess proceeds, amounting to $19,072.71. On August 20, 1959, Mr. and Mrs. Sweeney were divorced. On August 15, 1962, Girard Trust caused to be issued a writ of execution on its judgment against the premises in Radnor Township, Delaware County, title to said property originally having been in the names of both Sweeneys but which had, by reason of a property settlement connected with the divorce, become vested in Barbara Sweeney, alone.

On September 29, 1962, Barbara Sweeney filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County to open the judgment, averring that she neither knew of nor authorized the sale of stock held by Girard Trust as collateral, nor had she been advised that such a sale had taken place. She further averred that Girard Trust, before remitting the balance of the funds from the proceeds of stock sale to Francis X. Sweeney, had sufficient funds in its hands to satisfy the judgment, and she had never received any part of the proceeds of the check sent to Francis X. Sweeney. Girard Trust filed an answer to the petition. A hearing was held and, on December 13, 1962, an order was entered opening Girard Trust's judgment as to Barbara Sweeney. From that order, an appeal was taken to this court, and, by an opinion dated January 8, 1964, (Girard Trust Corn Exch. Bank v. Sweeney, 413 Pa. 203, 196 A.2d 310 (1964)), the order of the court below was affirmed. Thereafter, various pleadings were filed by the parties hereto which, in essence, are: First, Girard Trust sought a judgment against Barbara Sweeney in the amount of $9,000. plus interest from September 17, 1957, costs, and counsel fees; and Secondly, Barbara Sweeney, by her counter claim, sought judgment against Girard Trust in the amount of $53,800. Hearings were held on December 17, 1964, and March 26, 1965, during which time interrogatories and answers, directed to Francis X. Sweeney, and certain depositions of Barbara Sweeney taken in prior proceedings, were incorporated into the record. The matter came to trial, non-jury, and evidence revealed Girard Trust had never received any instructions from Barbara Sweeney regarding the aforementioned transaction, nor had they ever informed her that there were excess proceeds, nor that the same were paid by check to Francis X. Sweeney. The opinion of the court below recognized that 'Barbara Sweeney did not authorize nor consent to the letter of March 5, 1959, or the sale of the stock; that she received no part of the excess proceeds; that she first learned of the sale in May of 1959; that she first learned of the excess proceeds in February, 1960; and that she did not receive any portion of the excess proceeds in connection with the property settlement which was approved in conjunction with the divorce of the parties on August 20, 1959.' The court below further found the stock collateral, which was jointly titled, was stock which Barbara Sweeney had inherited from her mother, and the property settlement, incident to the divorce, gave her nothing more than what she had purchased with her own funds or funds inherited. As to the excess proceeds from the sale of the stock, Francis X. Sweeney, in his answers to interrogatories, stated that they were 'deposited with Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith.' The court below further found that 'If Barbara Sweeney received the benefit of any portion of the excess proceeds, clearly her former husband would have so stated; he did not.'

At the time of the trial, Girard Trust contended (1) it had the actual authority from the husband, Francis X. Sweeney, who allegedly acted on behalf of himself and his wife, to sell the stock and remit the excess proceeds to him...

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    ... ... Stewart v. Watkins, 427 Pa. 557, 235 A.2d 604 ... (1967); Girard Trust Bank v. Sweeney, 426 Pa. 324, ... 231 A.2d 407 (1967); and ... ...
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