Monday, December 10, 2018

Raising Too Many Issues On Appeal Will Dilute a Good Case and Will Not Save a Bad One

In the case of Berks Counseling Center v. Community Care, No. 898 MDA 2017 (Pa. Super. Nov. 7, 2018 Panella, J., Olson, J., Stevens, P.J.E.) (Op. by Panella, J.)(Non-Precedential), the court chastised the appellant for “throwing in every conceivable point” in its appellate’s filings.  This case arose out of a dispute by the Plaintiff with one of its contractors.  

This case again provides the lesson that the appellate court frowns upon appeals containing many issues.   Here, the appellant raised eight (8) issues on appeal.

Judge Panella noted that the appellate court judges’ receptiveness of issues raised on appeal “declines as the number of assigned errors increases.”  

Judge Panella additionally noted in his opinion that “experience on the bench convinces [him] that multiplying assignments of error will dilute and weaken a good case and will not save a bad one.”   It was additionally noted that throwing in every possible point on appeal is distracting to judges and gives support to a presumption that none of the arguments raised has any merit whatsoever.  

Ultimately, the Superior Court ruled in favor of Berks Counseling Center and held that none of the issues raised on appeal by Community Care merited any relief.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source:  Article by PJ D’Annunzio entitled “Court Chastising Appellant for ‘Throwing In Every Conceivable Point,’”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 13, 2018).  

Commentary:  The Superior Court cautions in this Opinion that multiplicity of claims on appeal hints a lack of confidence in any one of the claims.  How ironic that the Court would issue this Opinion as a "Non-Precedential" Opinion as a listing of an Opinion as "Non-Precedential," as opposed to a published Opinion of precedence, also hints that perhaps the Court is not as confident in its Opinion.

It is respectfully submitted that, in this day and age of digital publication, the time has come for the Superior Court to publish all of its Opinions.  A concern that the publication of too many Opinions will fill too many books is not as strong of a concern anymore as the use of books is (unfortunately) becoming a thing of the past.  

Here's to hoping that the Superior Court changes its internal rules and opts to publish all of its Opinions so that the bench and bar may have more and more excellent appellate guidance on a wide variety of issues for the benefit of all.

What do you think?

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