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JOSEPH R. THOMPSON v. AMERICO V. CORTESE (03/09/79)

decided: March 9, 1979.

JOSEPH R. THOMPSON, APPELLANT
v.
AMERICO V. CORTESE, PROTHONOTARY OF THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Joseph R. Thompson, an individual citizen v. Americo V. Cortese, Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, No. 5616 January Term, 1977.

COUNSEL

Joseph R. Thompson, appellant, for himself.

Thomas Dempsey, with him Homer Cook Grasberger, for appellee.

Judges Mencer, Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 175]

This is an appeal from the dismissal of appellant's complaint in mandamus against the prothonotary of

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 176]

    the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Appellant, attorney for the defendant in a trespass action, instituted this separate action to compel the prothonotary to accept a Praecipe to Enter Judgment based upon dismissal orders entered under former Local Rule of Civil Procedure ยง 350(1) (now Local Rule 130), which in relevant part provides:

Whenever in any civil action a Certificate of Readiness has not been filed and no proceedings have been docketed in the Prothonotary's office for a period of two (2) successive years, the action shall be dismissed with prejudice, for failure to prosecute under the provisions of this Rule, and the docket so marked, provided that no less than sixty (60) days' notice be given by publication once in [a newspaper of general circulation in the legal community].

Pursuant to the mandate of that rule, the prothonotary dismissed the trespass action with prejudice, for failure to prosecute, and so stamped the docket. Thereafter, appellant presented his praecipe.

The basic issue presented is whether it is the ministerial duty of the prothonotary to enter a judgment upon a praecipe of the party benefited by a purely administrative dismissal of a stale case.

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 177]

The prothonotary is not "an administrative officer who has discretion to interpret or implement rules and statutes." Warner v. Cortese, 5 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 51, 55, 288 A.2d 550, 552 (1972). Therefore, if documents tendered for filing are proper on their face and in conformity to rules of court, a prothonotary does not have discretion to refuse to enter them, Warner v. Cortese, supra, and mandamus then is the appropriate remedy to compel him to perform his ministerial duty. Stewart v. Bechtel, 360 Pa. ...


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