Appeal from order and judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 146 of 1966, in case of Crowell Office Equipment v. Joe Krug, trading as Town Talk Newspaper.
Edward S. Lawhorne, for appellant.
No argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Hannum, JJ. Opinion by Hannum, J.
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An action in assumpsit was filed by the appellee before a justice of the peace for recovery of $276.92. A default judgment was permitted and appellant then took an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County. A complaint was filed and in response appellant lodged an answer which contained a counterclaim for $2,075.00, which sum was later reduced to $1,916.69. Following this both a reply and counterreply were entered of record. The case then went through pretrial procedures and finally proceeded to trial before a panel of arbitrators, which gave an award to the appellee for his claim plus interest and to the appellant for $1,800.00. An order was then signed by Judge Catania approving a stipulation of counsel which suspended the award until the propriety of appellant's award could be determined by the court en banc. After argument, the lower court, speaking through Judge E. E. Lippincott, II, ordered that the award for the appellant was a nullity. Following this appellee entered judgment on his award as permitted by the order. Appellant took this appeal from the judgment, and Judge Lippincott then wrote an expanded opinion.
This case raises a single question: can a counterclaim in excess of $500.00 be filed by a defendant in
[ 213 Pa. Super. Page 263]
the Court of Common Pleas after an appeal from a judgment in favor of the plaintiff entered by a justice of the peace? The defendant frankly admits that all the decisional law there is on the question appears to be in favor of the appellee. It is his contention that this line of cases should be overruled.*fn1
Unfortunately, some of the cases holding that the jurisdiction of the common pleas court on an appeal from a justice of the peace is limited to the jurisdiction which the justice of the peace had originally, are Supreme Court cases and we have no power to overrule them.
In Deihm v. Snell, 119 Pa. 316, 13 A. 283 (1888), the Court said: "The statutes limiting and defining the jurisdiction of a justice are not left behind when a case comes into the Common Pleas by appeal, but are to be applied by the judge in the same manner as by the justice. If the justice had not jurisdiction of the cause of action or the contract or demand sought to be used as a set-off, the Common Pleas will not have it after an appeal. The forum is changed by the appeal, but the cause of action remains the same: Moore v. Wait, 1 Binn. 219; Owen v. Shelhamer, 3 Binn. 45; Collins v. Collins, supra [37 Pa. 387]; Bergman v. Roberts, 61 Pa. 497." See also Bauman v. Bittner, 152 Pa. Superior Ct. 628, 33 A.2d 273 (1943), and an annotation in 168 A.L.R. 641, entitled "Amendment in appellate court increasing amount claimed beyond, or
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reducing amount claimed to, jurisdiction ...