Appeal from the Order Entered March 6, 1985 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil No. 6384 July Term 1984.
Carl N. Martin, II, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Jeffrey B. Albert, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Olszewski, Tamilia and Kelly, JJ.
[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 182]
This matter comes before this Court on appeal from an order of the lower court sustaining appellees' demurrers to certain counts of appellants' complaint and dismissing the same with prejudice. For the reasons that follow, we quash part of the appeal and affirm the trial court's decision with respect to the remaining issues.
In May 1982, the corporate appellants, General Machine Corporation ("General") and Reliance Steel Products Company ("Reliance") retained appellees, Stephen M. Feldman and Stephen M. Feldman, P.C., to pursue two unrelated civil actions in federal court. Three months later, General's case was scheduled for trial in November 1982. At the same time, a personal injury case of appellees was also listed for trial commencing in November 1982. Appellants allege that communications continued between the parties into the Fall of 1982, but at no time did appellees alert their clients of the potential scheduling conflict. In addition, appellees were granted a continuance without appellants' knowledge and approval; and, despite appellant Perelman's instructions to proceed to trial without any delay, appellees petitioned the court to withdraw as counsel in General's case. The petition was denied and appellees were instructed to proceed to trial on November 29, 1982. Because appellees appealed this decision, the trial was postponed pending the outcome of that matter. Subsequently, appellees sought to withdraw their appearance on behalf of appellant Reliance.
[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 183]
On October 24, 1983, a hearing was conducted before the Fee Dispute Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association to ascertain General's right to recover attorney's fees paid to appellees. Following a discussion, it is alleged that appellee Feldman refused to return certain documents belonging to appellants and threatened to interfere with anyone's attempted retrieval. Appellants thereafter filed a six count complaint against appellees seeking to recover damages resulting from appellees' withdrawal from the case.
In Count I of the complaint, appellant General alleged that appellees had breached their contract to represent General in certain litigation in federal court. Count II of the complaint incorporated by reference the facts averred in Count I, and demanded damages for appellees' allegedly tortious conduct as established by the facts in Count I. In Count III of the complaint, appellant Reliance claimed that appellees had breached their contract to represent Reliance in certain other federal court litigation. Count IV incorporated by reference the facts averred in Count III, and demanded damges for appellees' tortious conduct as established by the facts in Count III. In Count V, appellant General sought damages for appellees' conversion of certain documents belonging to General. Finally in Count VI, appellant Perelman sought damages from appellees for assault and for the robbery of documents and services.
In response to the complaint, appellees filed preliminary objections which included demurrers to Counts II, IV, and VI. The trial court sustained the demurrers to these counts by an order of March 6, 1985. Appellants now contend that the lower court erred in dismissing Counts II and IV of their complaint since these counts stated a cause of action for tortious conduct based on appellees' alleged violations of certain Disciplinary Rules and certain Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. They further contend that Count VI of their complaint states a cause of action for assault or statutory robbery and that it was error for the trial court to dismiss
[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 184]
Counts II, IV and VI without giving them an opportunity to ...