No. 1300 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Lehigh County at No. 75-342.
Samuel A. Litzenberger, Quakertown, for appellants.
John D. Trainer, Doylestown, for appellee.
Hester, Cavanaugh and Van der Voort, JJ.
[ 297 Pa. Super. Page 333]
Appellants David and Janice Glossbrenner contend that the lower court erred in refusing to strike a confessed judgment entered against them. We agree and therefore reverse.
[ 297 Pa. Super. Page 334]
On January 29, 1978, appellee Industrial Valley Bank and Trust Company confessed judgment against appellants in the amount of $26,500.00. The judgment was entered on a "suretyship agreement" containing a valid confession of judgment clause. By the terms of that contract, which was dated June 19, 1972, appellants agreed to become surety to appellee "for the prompt payment at maturity of all liabilities of [Greensleeves Corp.] to [appellee], now existing or hereafter arising." A judgment note in the amount of $26,500, executed by appellant David Glossbrenner as president of Greensleeves Corp., was filed with the suretyship agreement at the time judgment was entered. The judgment note was dated February 20, 1974.
Appellants filed a petition to strike or open the judgment on October 10, 1978. They voluntarily abandoned their petition to open judgment and proceeded only on the petition to strike. Following oral argument, the trial court entered an order denying the motion to strike the judgment. Appellants filed an appeal to this court.
Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 2951 provides for two separate methods of confessing judgment.*fn1 Under Rule 2951(a), the prothonotary may enter judgment by confession "without the agency of an attorney and without the filing of a complaint, declaration or confession, for the amount which may appear to be due from the face of the instrument." (emphasis added). Rule 2951(b) requires that a complaint be filed to commence proceedings. This method replaces the amicable action under prior practice. The complaint procedure of Rule 2951(b) "must be followed if the amount due cannot be ascertained from the face of the instrument." Van Arkel & Moss Properties, Inc. v. Kendor, Ltd., 276 Pa. Super. 547, 551, 419 A.2d 593, 595 (1980).
Our appellate courts have frequently discussed the distinction between the two different procedures for confessing
[ 297 Pa. Super. Page 335]
judgment and have consistently held that entry of judgment by a prothonotary is improper, and that the complaint procedure must be followed, in any case in which a determination of the amount due requires consideration of any matter outside the instrument itself. Evans v. Blimpie Base, Inc., 284 Pa. Super. 256, 425 A.2d 801 (1981); Van Arkel & Moss Properties v. Kendor, Ltd., 276 Pa. Super. 547, 419 A.2d 593 (1980); ...