Appeal from Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Law, of Philadelphia County, No. 1734 August Term, 1977. Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Law, of Philadelphia County, No. 54 February Term, 1979.
Arthur Edgar Schmidt, Philadelphia, for Whitt, appellant (at No. 109).
James Maurice DeLeon, Philadelphia, for Phila. Housing, appellant (at Nos. 1679 and 108) and appellee (at No. 109).
Louis S. Rulli, Philadelphia, for Whitt, appellee (at Nos. 1679 and 108).
Wieand, McEwen and Popovich, JJ. Popovich, J., concurs in the result.
[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 138]
The several appeals presently before this Court have their genesis in a dispute between Lucy Whitt and her landlord, the Philadelphia Housing Authority. That dispute led to two separate arbitration proceedings; two court orders which, in effect, confirmed the separate arbitration awards; and a proceeding holding the Housing Authority in contempt for failing to make repairs as directed by the first of such confirmed awards. A brief history is necessary.
In October, 1976, Whitt deemed herself aggrieved because of the state of disrepair prevailing in the housing unit which she was leasing from the Housing Authority. Pursuant to procedure established by a consent decree entered in 1974 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Brown v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, Civil Action 72-2083, Whitt presented her grievance to arbitration. This resulted in an award directing the Housing Authority to make repairs to Whitt's unit. The award also granted an abatement of rent in the amount of
[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 139]
$645.00 and suspended the need to make any future payments of rent until the mandated repairs had been made.*fn1 The Authority took the position, and so notified Whitt, that the award was unlawful and that it would refuse to honor it. Nevertheless, the award was confirmed by The Honorable Calvin T. Wilson on September 1, 1977. Whether proper notice of the confirmation hearing was given is in dispute. In any event, the Housing Authority was not represented at the hearing before Judge Wilson on September 1, 1977. Moreover, it did not appeal from the court order confirming the arbitration award.
Thereafter, Whitt continued to occupy the unit but paid no rent. In July, 1978, the Authority gave notice to Whitt that her lease was being terminated for nonpayment of rent. This prompted Whitt to file a second grievance on grounds that the prior arbitration award, confirmed by the court, had excused her from making rental payments until repairs had been made. On November 7, 1978, after hearing, a second arbitration award found that the circumstances had changed. It directed the Housing Authority to make enumerated repairs, some of which had not been completed as directed by the prior award, within thirty days. The award also contained a direction to Whitt to pay all rent due after March 1, 1978, less an abatement of $7.00 per month. Finally, the award directed that the termination notice be canceled unless Whitt failed to make arrangements to pay back rent in accordance with the award. Whitt filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas to vacate or modify the second award because it allegedly failed to take cognizance of the prior arbitration award and confirmation by the court. Whitt's petition was heard before The Honorable Eugene Gelfand and was dismissed on December 1, 1980. Whitt appealed from this order.
Meanwhile, on March 29, 1979, Whitt had filed a motion before Judge Wilson to hold the ...