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BRUCE PRAISNER v. OLIVE S. STOCKER (04/22/83)

filed: April 22, 1983.

BRUCE PRAISNER, AN INDIVIDUAL, APPELLANT,
v.
OLIVE S. STOCKER, AN INDIVIDUAL, AND MIKE FASTUCA, AN INDIVIDUAL



No. 558 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, No. GD-79-21136.

COUNSEL

Mark W. Morava, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Howland W. Abramson, Philadelphia, for appellees.

Cercone, P.j., and Cavanaugh, Wieand, Cirillo, Popovich, Montgomery and Hoffman, JJ. Cavanaugh, J., files a concurring statement in which Popovich and Hoffman, JJ., join.

Author: Wieand

[ 313 Pa. Super. Page 336]

Does the rule of immunity from liability for judicial acts extend to district justices? This is the principal issue raised by the appeal in the instant case. Before reaching that issue, however, we must first determine whether this Court has jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Our jurisdiction depends upon the appealability of an order entering summary judgments on two counts of a three count complaint where the three counts contained separate causes of action joined in the same complaint pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1044(a).

After a criminal complaint charging Bruce Praisner with issuing bad checks had been dismissed, Praisner filed a complaint in trespass against the district justice, Olive S. Stocker, alleging, in three counts, causes of action for false arrest, malicious abuse of process and assault and battery. After the pleadings were closed, Stocker filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings on the grounds that a district justice is immune from liability for acts performed in his or her capacity as a judicial officer. The trial court, following argument, entered summary judgments in favor of Stocker on the counts alleging causes of action for false arrest and malicious abuse of process. From this order, Praisner appealed. The remaining count alleging a cause of action for assault and battery was ordered down for compulsory arbitration and resulted in an award in favor of Praisner for Ten ($10) Dollars. No appeal was filed from that award, and the time therefor has now expired.

It is well settled that an appeal will lie only from a final order unless otherwise permitted by statute. A final order is usually one which ends the litigation or, alternatively, disposes of the entire case. Pugar v. Greco, 483 Pa. 68, 72-73, 394 A.2d 542, 544 (1978); Bracken v. Bracken, 294 Pa. Super. 371, 373, 439 A.2d 1247, 1247-1248 (1982); Mitchell v. Center City Cadillac, 287 Pa. Super. 350, 353, 430 A.2d 321, 322 (1981); Hall v. Lee, 285 Pa. Super. 542, 544, 428 A.2d 178, 179 (1981); Malenfant v. Ruland, 274 Pa. Super. 506, 509, 418 A.2d 521, 522 (1980). "Conversely, an order is interlocutory and not final unless it effectively puts

[ 313 Pa. Super. Page 337]

    the litigant 'out of court'." Giannini v. Foy, 279 Pa. Super. 553, 556, 421 A.2d 338, 339 (1980), citing Allessandro v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., 487 Pa. 274, 409 A.2d 347 (1979). Accord: Safety Tire Corp. v. Hoffman Tire Company, Inc., 458 Pa. 102, 103, 329 A.2d 834, 835 (1974); James Banda, Inc. v. Virginia Manor Apartments, Inc., 451 Pa. 408, 410, 303 A.2d 925, 926 (1973); Stadler v. Mt. Oliver Borough, 373 Pa. 316, 318, 95 A.2d 776, 776 (1953); Jackson v. Moultrie, 288 Pa. Super. 252, 255, 431 A.2d 1033, 1034-1035 (1981); Schaefer v. American States Insurance Co., 272 Pa. Super. 67, 69, 414 A.2d 672, 673 (1979).

"In ascertaining what is a final appealable order . . . we must look beyond the technical effect of the adjudication to its practical ramifications." Jackson v. Moultrie, supra 288 Pa. Super. at 255, 431 A.2d at 1034-1035. Accord: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 482 Pa. 615, 618, 394 A.2d 491, 493 (1978); T.C.R. Realty, Inc. v. Cox, 472 Pa. 331, 337, 372 A.2d 721, 724 (1977); Bell v. Beneficial Consumer Discount Co., 465 Pa. 225, 228, 348 A.2d 734, 735 (1975); Husted v. Board of Directors of Wellsboro Area School District, 57 Pa. Commw. 520, 524, 427 A.2d 272, 274 (1981); Giannini v. Foy, supra 279 Pa. Super. at 556, 421 A.2d at 339; Schaefer v. American States Insurance Co., supra 272 Pa. Super. at 70, 414 A.2d at 673. "The finality of an order is a judicial conclusion which can be reached only after an examination of its ramifications." Pugar v. Greco, supra 483 Pa. at 73, 394 A.2d at 545, quoting Bell v. Beneficial Consumer Discount Co., supra 465 Pa. at 228, 348 A.2d at 735. Accord: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission v. Atlantic Richfield Co., supra 482 Pa. at 618, 394 A.2d at 493; West v. West, 301 Pa. Super. 75, 76, 446 A.2d 1342, 1342 (1982); Gordon v. Gordon, 293 Pa. Super. 491, 498, 439 A.2d 683, 686 (1981).

As a general rule, an order dismissing some but not all counts of a multi-count complaint is interlocutory and not appealable. Gordon v. Gordon, supra, 293 Pa. Superior at 499, ...


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