James F. Israel, Gerald W. Weaver, Bagley, Weaver & Sydor, Pittsburgh, for appellants.
Robert L. Potter, J. Tomlinson Fort, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
The question presented is whether a pretrial order dismissing the class aspects of a suit, but allowing the case to proceed as an individual action, is an appealable final order. We hold that it is.
Appellants Edward and Marie Bell brought a class action pursuant to Pa.R.Civ.P. 2230*fn1 against appellee Beneficial
Consumer Discount Company alleging that appellee failed to record the satisfaction of mortgages as required by statute.*fn2 Appellee filed preliminary objections. The trial court sustained the preliminary objections to the suit as a class action, but permitted the named plaintiffs to proceed in their individual capacities. An appeal from this order was taken to the Superior Court which granted appellee's motion to quash the appeal. On reconsideration, the court affirmed the order per curiam (Spaeth, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Hoffman, J., joined).*fn3 We granted appellants' petition for allowance of appeal to decide whether an order dismissing a class action is final and appealable.*fn4
With exceptions not relevant here*fn5 the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act gives the appellate courts of the Commonwealth jurisdiction over appeals only from "final
orders."*fn6 We must decide whether orders denying class action status are "final" within the meaning of that Act.
Whether an order is final and appealable cannot necessarily be ascertained from the face of a decree alone, nor simply from the technical effect of the adjudication. The finality of an order is a judicial conclusion which can be reached only after an examination of its ramifications. We follow the reasoning of the United States Supreme Court that a finding of finality must be the result of a practical rather than a technical ...