No. 2126 October Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Equity, for Phila. County, No. 1652 February Term, 1978.
Lester H. Novack, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Neal E. Newman, Bensalem, for appellees.
Price, Watkins and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 285 Pa. Super. Page 230]
This is an appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County sustaining preliminary objections to the complaint filed in equity by appellants, Robert and Judith Peitzman. The sole issue for our consideration is whether the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to exercise its equity jurisdiction on the ground that there existed a full, adequate, and complete remedy at law. See generally Long John Silver's Inc. v. Fiore, 255 Pa. Super. 183, 386 A.2d 569 (1978); St. Vladimir's Ukranian Orthodox Church v. Preferred Risk Mut. Ins. Co., 239 Pa. Super. 492, 362 A.2d 1052 (1976).
The following pertinent facts appear. Appellees operate an apartment building in Philadelphia known as Parkway House. Since January, 1972, appellants, tenants of Parkway House, have occupied apartment No. 601. By a lease dated January 4, 1977, appellants retained possession of apartment 601 for a period commencing April 1, 1977 and ending March 31, 1978. The lease provided for the automatic continuation of the tenancy for a further term unless either party shall have provided the other with written notice of its desire to terminate the lease ninety days prior to the end of the original term -- March 31, 1978.
Pursuant to this provision, appellees gave written notice on December 22, 1977, that they were exercising their option to terminate. On February 16, 1978, appellants filed a complaint in equity to enjoin and restrain appellees from refusing to renew their lease. The thrust of appellants' prayer for relief was that, in refusing to renew the apartment
[ 285 Pa. Super. Page 231]
lease, appellees were acting in malicious retaliation for their active participation in and chairmanship of the Parkway House Tenant's Association, an organization designed to represent tenants in their dealing with the appellees as lessors. In two other counts, appellants sought to recover (1) overcharges in rent allegedly imposed because of their participation in the tenant's organization, and (2) compensatory and punitive damages for emotional distress suffered by appellant Judith Peitzman as a result of appellees' vindictive conduct.
Appellees subsequently filed preliminary objections to the complaint in the nature of a demurrer alleging that appellants had a full, complete and adequate statutory remedy at law; viz., the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951.*fn1 On July 10, 1978, these objections were sustained and the court below entered an order dismissing appellants' complaint in equity. For the reasons herein set forth, we affirm.
It is generally established that where a remedy is provided by statute, the jurisdiction of a court of equity may not be invoked since there is an adequate remedy at law. See Pennsylvania State Chamber of Commerce v. Torquato, 386 Pa. 306, 125 A.2d 755 (1956); Collegeville v. Philadelphia Suburban Water Company, 377 Pa. 636, 105 A.2d 722 (1954). Instantly, the trial court relied on Brown's Appeal, 66 Pa. (16 Smith) 155 (1870) and Appeal of Pittsburgh and A. Drove Yard Company, 123 Pa. 250, 16 A. 625 (1888), to buttress its conclusion that it had no equitable jurisdiction since the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 offered appellants a positive statutory remedy. In Brown, the supreme court held that injunctive relief was not available to enjoin a landlord's possessory action to recover demised premises where he had given ...