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JOSEPH TAYLOR v. OXFORD LAND (02/01/85)

filed: February 1, 1985.

JOSEPH TAYLOR, APPELLANT,
v.
OXFORD LAND, INC., APPELLEE



No. 952 Pittsburgh, 1982, Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, January Term, 1969, No. 2306.

COUNSEL

Kenneth P. Simon, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

David I. Ainsman, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Rowley, Hester and Roberts, JJ. Roberts, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Rowley

[ 338 Pa. Super. Page 610]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The principal issue presented by this appeal is whether a local rule of court that provides for the automatic termination of cases in which there has been no activity of record for a period of two years or more, without notice of an opportunity for a pre-termination hearing, is inconsistent with Pennsylvania Rule of Judicial Administration 1901(c) so as to render the local rule ineffective and unenforceable. The trial court held that its local rule was not inconsistent with Rule 1901(c) and denied appellant's petition to "reactivate" his case. After consideration of the arguments presented, we hold that the local rule is inconsistent with Rule 1901(c) and reverse.

Appellant's cause of action is for an alleged breach of a contract wherein he sold certain real estate to the appellee. According to the complaint, appellant retained the ownership of certain pipe buried in the ground. The agreement provided that the appellant was to be given written notification prior to the removal of the pipe from the ground. Alleging that appellee failed to provide such notification, appellant instituted this action for his resulting damages.

The action was instituted by the filing of a complaint on November 19, 1968. The docket reflects that there was activity until March 31, 1969. No further action is reflected on the docket until September 2, 1980. However, according to the record before us, appellant, on June 22, 1970, filed a petition for arrangement under the National Bankruptcy Act. Although a trustee was appointed in the bankruptcy

[ 338 Pa. Super. Page 611]

    proceedings, neither appellant nor his trustee undertook any activity in this case. Eventually the bankruptcy proceedings were terminated on December 13, 1978.

On September 2, 1980, the case was placed at issue by appellant. Jury selection was scheduled to commence on March 15, 1982. On February 19, 1982, appellant filed his pre-trial statement. However, on March 12, 1982, following oral argument by the parties, the trial court entered an order stating that the case was terminated by reason of Allegheny County Local Rule 229(e). Subsequently, on May 12, 1982, appellant filed a petition to reactivate the case. The trial court entered an order denying that petition and this appeal followed.

On appeal, appellant raises several issues. He questions whether his cause of action could have been terminated without notice to the bankruptcy court, whether the local rule providing for automatic termination without notice conflicts with Pennsylvania Rule of Judicial Administration 1901(c) and whether the local rule violates the due process clause of the United States Constitution. Since we have determined that the local rule conflicts with ...


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