Leonard N. Zito, David A. Martino, Bangor, for appellants.
Elwood M. Malos, Easton, for appellees.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy, J., concurs in the result.
This appeal arises from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, denying a petition by appellants, Thomas J. Morris and Margaret Morris, his wife, to open a confessed judgment.
The facts surrounding this appeal are as follows. On September 5, 1968, appellants entered into a written agreement with appellees, Arthur L. Kardos and Margaret Kardos, his wife, for the sale of a parcel of land in Bangor, Pennsylvania. Appellants agreed to pay appellees $3,800 for the land, with a down payment of $500 and seventy-two monthly installments of $55.48 each. The agreement provided that appellants would pay the taxes, insurance premiums and water bills. The agreement further contained a confession of judgment clause in ejectment in the event of default by the appellants-buyers.
Appellants made the first thirty-eight monthly payments as required. In 1970, a boundary dispute arose between appellants and a neighbor, Joyce Farleigh. Appellants filed an action in equity to resolve the dispute. Appellees, as record owners of the land, joined in the action, but bore no part of the cost of the suit. On the advice of their attorney, appellants stopped making all payments required by the agreement until the suit was resolved.
The boundary dispute was resolved in favor of appellants, who made improvements to the property. Appellants testified that they offered to pay all money due for the arrearages. Appellees, on the other hand, stated that they confessed judgment only after repeated requests for payment were ignored by appellants.
On January 23, 1974, appellees confessed judgment and on March 1, 1974, filed an action in ejectment on the
confession of judgment clause. On March 20, 1974, appellants petitioned the court to open the judgment. On June 18, 1974, the court below issued an order refusing to open the judgment. Following a per curiam affirmance by the Superior Court on February 19, 1975, we granted a petition for allowance of appeal on June 3, 1975.
In the past, this court has held that equitable considerations were of prime importance when considering a petition to open a judgment. As this court stated in Ehnes v. ...