No. 2705 Philadelphia, 1981, No. 2904 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeals from Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, Equity, of Delaware County, No. 1644 March Term, 1957
David A. Scholl, Bethlehem, for Horstman.
Roland J. Christy, Spring House, pro se and for Dorothy A. Boyle.
Wickersham, Brosky and Wieand, JJ.
[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 111]
On June 9, 1976, Violet M. Horstman filed a petition to open a judgment which had been entered against her on January 14, 1966. After protracted proceedings, the trial court denied the petition on September 30, 1981. The reasons cited by the court in support of its order were (1) the long delay in moving to open the judgment and (2) Ms. Horstman's failure to explain the default which resulted in the entry of the judgment against her. On appeal, she contends that the court failed to consider the equities and erred in refusing to open the judgment. We disagree and affirm the order of the learned trial judge.
The history of the litigation between Philip H. Horstman and Violet M. Horstman is tortuous. It began with the filing of a complaint on May 11, 1957. By that complaint Philip sought to enjoin his wife, Violet, from utilizing and/or disposing of certain bank accounts and other jointly owned property. An apparent settlement was agreed upon, but, because of Violet's subsequent rejection of its terms, it was not consummated. Therefore, on December 21, 1962, an amended complaint was filed, which included an additional prayer for partition of entireties real estate. During the course of proceedings thereon, Violet Horstman was ordered to disclose certain financial information. She refused to do so. A petition to hold Violet in contempt because of such refusal was filed by Philip on March 16, 1962. The requested information remained undisclosed when, on February 9, 1963, Philip Horstman died. The executors of his estate were thereafter substituted as plaintiffs, and, on April 16, 1963, they obtained a second court order directing Violet to deliver the financial information to their attorney. Violet continued her refusal to deliver this information despite the subsequent commencement of at least two attachment proceedings against her. Finally, Philip's executors filed a motion for the entry of judgment, and the court set a hearing thereon for January 7, 1966 at 10:00 a.m.
[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 112]
Despite notice, neither Violet nor her attorney appeared. The hearing was continued until January 14, 1966, and notice thereof was again given. When Violet persisted in her refusal to appear, the court entered judgment against her for $12,101.64 and decreed that Philip's executors were the owners of a one-half interest in the marital home situated in Broomall, Delaware County.
The monetary judgment was revived on August 19, 1974, following which two of Violet's savings accounts were attached by garnishment proceedings. On October 4, 1974, Violet filed a petition to strike the judgment. In due course, the petition was denied. That denial was affirmed per curiam in Horstman v. Horstman, 236 Pa. Super. 715, 347 A.2d 726 (1975), and allocatur was denied by the Supreme Court on February 9, 1976.
On June 9, 1976, the petition to open judgment which is presently at issue was filed. The trial judge, the Honorable Robert A. Wright, described the ensuing sequence of events: "Thereafter . . . followed a most frustrating sequence of events involving counsel for both adversaries and attempts to conduct and complete certain discovery by way of written Interrogatories and oral Depositions. Counsel for both sides have embarked upon conduct which has delayed the resolution of this matter and which has brought uncomplimentary publicity into the picture. Delay upon delay has been introduced into this litigation, by both sides, even in the face of clear and explicit Orders of this Court. Three Orders of this Court have been appealed to the Superior Court since February of 1978, all three Appeals being quashed and remanded for further proceedings consistent with our Order of February 27, 1978 [which] set out a complete and specific discovery deadline schedule." Trial court opinion of September 30, 1981 at p. 5. Upon the completion of extensive discovery, a hearing was held in the trial court following which, on September 30, 1981, appellant's petition to open was dismissed.
Additional appeals from various orders entered during the course of the proceedings to ...