No. 573 October Term, 1979, On Appeal from the Order of The Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in No. 78-08089 Granting a Petition to Open a Default Judgment
Germaine Ingram, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Joseph P. Lynch, Norristown, for appellee.
Spaeth, Cavanaugh and O'Kicki, JJ.*fn* Spaeth and Cavanaugh, JJ., concur in the result.
[ 297 Pa. Super. Page 104]
The issue in this case is whether the Trial Court abused its discretion in ordering a default judgment to be opened. Appellant, Cluster House, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, leased a home from Reid's predecessor. Lessee deposited $380 as security for the use of the premises.
Lessee, after vacating the premises, filed suit in assumpsit before a District Justice of the Peace for the return of the security deposit, damages for retention of the security deposit and unpaid rent.
After a lengthy and extensive hearing, judgment was entered for Lessee. Lessor appealed. Lessee filed its Complaint; approximately 27 days thereafter, Lessee filed its praecipe for judgment for failure of the Lessor to answer within 20 days.
A petition to open a default judgment is an appeal to the equitable discretion of the court and should be exercised only when three factors coalesce:
1. The petition to open must be filed promptly.
2. The failure to appear or file a timely answer must be excused;
3. The party seeking to open the judgment must show a meritorious defense; Ruggiero v. Phillips, 250 Pa. Super. 349, 378 A.2d 971 (1977).
In the case at bar, Lessor did file a timely petition to open judgment. The default judgment was entered July 24, 1978, and the petition to open was filed seven days later, July 31, 1978. See: Quaker Transit Company, Inc. v. Jack W. Blumenfeld and Company, 277 Pa. Super. 393, 419 A.2d 1202 (1980), in which a petition to open judgment ...