Friday, April 3, 2020

Appeal From a Default Dismissed Where Plaintiff Did Not First File Petition To Open or Strike Default



In the case of Cardona v. Buchanan, 2020 Pa. Super. 55 (Pa. Super. March 9, 2020 Olson, J., Nichols, J., Stabile, J.) (Op. by Stabile, J.), the court found that where a trial court entered a judgment of non pros due to a Plaintiff’s failure to prosecute her suit and the Plaintiff thereafter failed to file a Petition to Open the Judgment before appealing, the Plaintiff waived the single issue raised on appeal. 

This matter arose out of a slip and fall incident that occurred in 2005. The Plaintiff began the lawsuit by way of a Writ of Summons in 2007. She thereafter filed a Complaint in November of 2009. 

Nine (9) years later, in November of 2018, the Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss the action for lack of prosecution. That motion is granted and the case was dismissed with prejudice. The Plaintiff then filed an appeal to the Superior Court without first filing a Petition to Open the Judgment. 

On appeal, the Superior Court found that the Plaintiff waived her objection to the non pros order by failing to file a Petition to Open. The court cited to Pa. R.C.P. 3051 which provides that relief from a judgment of non pros shall be sought by way of a Petition to Strike or Open the Judgment. The court also noted that Rule 3051 mandates that a Plaintiff file the Petition to Open with the trial court before appealing to the appellate court. 

The Superior Court further noted that, since Petitions to Open Default Judgments of Non Pros are mandatory, any appeal related to a judgment of non pros should be made not from the judgment itself but rather from a denial of a Petition to Open or Strike that Judgment.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 25, 2020).

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