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Stauffer v. Stauffer

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
465 Pa. 558 (1976)


Facts

Donald Stauffer (plaintiff) and his wife, Theresa Stauffer (defendant), jointly conveyed to Mrs. Stauffer the house that the Stauffers had both owned and occupied as tenants by the entirety. Prior to the conveyance, Mrs. Stauffer learned that Mr. Stauffer was having an affair with her sister, Victoria Gavin. Mr. Stauffer, after being confronted, wrote out and signed a confession to his affair in the presence of Mrs. Stauffer and Edward Gavin, and terminated the adulterous relationship. Mrs. Stauffer sought legal advice, engaged in outbursts that included driving the family car in a reckless fashion, and told Mr. Stauffer that they might lose the house due to a lawsuit filed by Mr. Gavin. However, the Stauffers continued living together and having sexual relations, and Mrs. Stauffer indicated that she was interested in reconciliation. Subsequently, Mr. Stauffer signed over the house to Mrs. Stauffer. At that point, Mrs. Stauffer ended all relations with Mr. Stauffer and moved out of the marital bedroom. Mr. Stauffer later brought suit for a constructive trust to be imposed on the house. At trial, Mr. Stauffer testified that he had transferred the house to preserve it as a family home for himself, Mrs. Stauffer, and their children. The trial court imposed the constructive trust on the ground that the transfer was fraudulently induced by Mrs. Stauffer’s threats and misrepresentations. Mrs. Stauffer appealed, arguing that there was no confidential relationship between her and Mr. Stauffer and that Mr. Stauffer’s affair meant he had unclean hands.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Eagen, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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