Appeal from order of County Court of Philadelphia, Dec. T., 1966, No. 10805-E, in case of City of Philadelphia v. Chase and Walker Corporation, Regent Management Corporation, Central Corporation et al.
Frank J. Pfizenmayer, Assistant City Solicitor, with him Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., Second Deputy City Solicitor, and Edward G. Bauer, Jr., City Solicitor, for City of Philadelphia, appellant.
Joseph P. Breslin, for appellees.
Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Justice Roberts concurs in the result. Mr. Chief Justice Bell took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
This is an appeal from the order of the County Court of Philadelphia permitting appeals to be taken from 54 magistrates' judgments in municipal-code violation proceedings.
In the course of its duties under the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter with respect to enforcing the Philadelphia housing, fire, building and license codes, the Law Department of the City commenced suits for penalties against the various Appellees (the entities other than Samuel Elgart being controlled by him), in various magistrates' courts of the City of Philadelphia. In the period from July 1966 to February 1967, 54 separate violations of the Philadelphia housing, fire, building
and license codes were adjudicated and fines imposed in an aggregate sum of $2,545.21. Six of these 54 magistrates' judgments were recorded as liens in the County Court of Philadelphia, the last being filed on January 25, 1967.
On May 24, 1967, appellees filed in the County Court of Philadelphia a "petition for leave to file appeal from judgments of magistrates nunc pro tunc." This petition was filed using the caption of one of the judgments entered in that court [December Term 1966, No. 10805-E]. To this petition appellees attached a three-page exhibit listing the 54 magistrates' judgments in which appellees had been fined for violating Philadelphia Code provisions and purported to apply his petition to all 54 cases. Appellees made the blanket averment with respect to all the cases that they were not "served with process initiating the action before a magistrate and had no knowledge of the pendency of the action", and accordingly requested the County Court to permit appeals in all 54 cases.
On June 19, 1967, the City of Philadelphia filed preliminary objections to appellees' petition on the grounds that the County Court lacked jurisdiction to grant appeals from magistrates' judgments involving code-enforcement proceedings since the applicable Pennsylvania statutes conferred exclusive jurisdiction of such action on the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.
On July 13, 1967, the County Court of Philadelphia dismissed the City's preliminary objections and granted appellees' petition for leave to file appeals from all 54 magistrates' judgments. The Court in its opinion filed September 11, 1967, found that it rather than the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia ...