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DISTRICT COUNCIL 33 v. CITY PHILADELPHIA (04/25/86)

filed: April 25, 1986.

DISTRICT COUNCIL 33, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, BY EARL STOUT, AS TRUSTEE AD LITEM, AND EARL STOUT; ALBERT JOHNSON; HARRY DARGAN; GEORGE WINNS; JOHN EVERETT; LEONARD TILGHMAN; GEORGE WROTEN; EARL WILLIAMS; EDWARD SIMPKINS; EDWARD WILLIAMS; AND FRANCIS ROONEY, TRUSTEES OF DISTRICT COUNCIL 33 MUNICIPAL WORKERS HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, APPELLANTS AT NO. 1463 & 2016 PHL 85,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, APPELLANT AT NO. 1511 & 1943 PHL 85



Appeal from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Philadelphia County at No. 3504 January Term 1983.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Daniels, Philadelphia, for appellants (at 1463 & 2016) and for appellees (at 1511 & 1943).

Barbara Mather, Assistant County Solicitor, Philadelphia, for appellant (at 1511 & 1943) and for appellee (at 1463 & 2016).

Wickersham, McEwen and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Wickersham

[ 354 Pa. Super. Page 179]

These four consolidated appeals are taken from the orders of April 26, 1985 and July 10, 1985 of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. They arise out of a dispute between the City of Philadelphia ("the City") and District Council 33, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ("District Council 33") concerning

[ 354 Pa. Super. Page 180]

    the meaning of the 1982-84 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the parties.

Trustees for the District Council 33 Municipal Workers Health and Welfare Fund ("the Fund") filed a complaint in equity and a motion for preliminary injunctive relief on January 18, 1983 against defendant-below, the City, based on allegations that the City had breached its obligation to pay certain sums of money to the Fund. A period of litigation followed which resulted in the disqualification of original counsel for District Council 33. City of Philadelphia v. District Council 33, 503 Pa. 498, 469 A.2d 1051 (1983). Subsequently, the chancellor issued a preliminary injunction in April, 1984 and made certain findings of fact after the initial hearing on this matter. After further trial proceedings in 1984 and 1985, the chancellor issued additional findings of fact after the final hearing in April, 1985. The City filed a timely motion for post-trial relief. On April 26, 1985, the court issued an order requiring the City to pay an additional $15,879,215.36 to the Fund. Both the City and District Council 33 filed timely exceptions and motions for post-trial relief. On May 24, 1985, District Council 33 filed an appeal from the order of April 26, 1985 at No. 1463 Philadelphia, 1985. The City filed a cross-appeal at No. 1511 Philadelphia, 1985. On July 10, 1985, the chancellor denied both parties' motions in an opinionless order. The City subsequently filed an appeal from that order to our court at No. 1943 Philadelphia, 1985 and District Council 33 filed a cross-appeal at No. 2016 Philadelphia, 1985.

At the outset, we must determine which of the above appeals are properly before us. We conclude that the appeal and cross-appeal at Nos. 1463 and 1511 Philadelphia, 1985 were taken prematurely in that they were taken after the filing but before the disposition of motions for post-trial relief. We therefore quash those appeals. The appeal and cross-appeal at Nos. 1943 and 2016 however, we find properly before this court. See Pa.R.A.P. 301. Accordingly, we now turn to the issues raised therein.*fn1

[ 354 Pa. Super. Page 181]

Initially, we examine the claims of appellant, the City. After a thorough examination of the briefs of the parties, the relevant caselaw and the extensive record in this case, we affirm the order of the chancellor in the court below.

We begin by noting that our scope of review in such matters is closely confined. Appellate review of equity matters is limited to the determination of whether the chancellor committed an error of law or abuse of discretion; a final decree in equity will not be disturbed unless it is unsupported by evidence or demonstrably capricious. Sack v. Feinman, 489 Pa. 152, 413 A.2d 1059 (1980), decided after remand, ...


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