Appeal from the Order Entered July 2, 1984, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, at No. 4800 April Term, 1976.
Henry J. Sommer, Philadelphia, for Scott, appellants in No. 1933 and appellees in No. 2130.
Walter Weir, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant in No. 2130 and appellee in No. 1933.
Andrew P. Bralow, Philadelphia, for Sullivan, appellee.
Montemuro, Popovich and Watkins, JJ. Popovich, J., concurs in the result.
[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 291]
This appeal and cross-appeal comes to us from an Order entered July 2, 1984 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County granting appellant Scott's Motion for Summary Judgment in part, holding that the notice requirements of the Rules of Civil Procedure for sheriff's sales of real property did not comport with due process, but denying the motion in all other respects.
This action was commenced by a class action complaint in equity filed in April, 1976, by the Scotts on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated. The complaint was filed against the creditor, Girard Trust Bank (now Mellon Bank East N.A.) and the collection agency (Adal Corporation) which had exposed the Scott's real property to a sheriff's sale. Also named as a defendant was the Sheriff of Philadelphia County, Joseph A. Sullivan.
Mellon Bank and Adal Corporation filed preliminary objections. Sheriff Sullivan filed an Answer with New Matter. At a later stage of the case, Sheriff Sullivan filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Several other motions not relevant to this appeal were also filed by various parties. Thereafter, the court below granted Mellon Bank and Adal Corporation's preliminary objections and Sheriff Sullivan's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, dismissing the case.
This Court, on appeal, reversed that dismissal and remanded the case for a class action determination and further proceedings. See Scott v. Adal Corp., 276 Pa. Superior Ct. 459, 419 A.2d 548 (1980). After our Supreme Court denied review, the remanded case was assigned to Judge White, of the court below, who directed the parties to brief and argue the class action issue. On March 1, 1982, Judge
[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 292]
White ruled that the case could proceed as a class action, with a plaintiff class represented by Scott and a defendant class of judgment creditors and sheriff's sale purchasers represented by Girard Trust Bank (Mellon).
Subsequently Scott and the defendants entered into agreements and stipulations to simplify the issues. In return for the satisfaction of the judgment against him, Phillip Scott released Girard Bank (Mellon) from individual monetary claims arising out of this transaction. This release left only the individual and class claims for declaratory and equitable relief to be resolved by the court.*fn1
After additional discovery the case was assigned to Judge Goldman, before whom both Girard (Mellon) and Sheriff Sullivan, argued that a class action was improper in the case. Judge Goldman rejected these arguments and on July 27, 1983, held that Judge White had previously certified the class.
The parties then filed cross-motions for summary judgment as to liability on all remaining claims in the lawsuit.
On July 2, 1984, the court below granted Scott's motion in part, holding that the notice requirements of the Rules of Civil Procedure for sheriff's sales of real property did not comport with due process. The court denied the Scott's motion in all other respects. This Order was to become effective October 17, 1984. On July 31, 1984, the court below issued an implementation order.
Thereafter, the parties filed an appeal and a cross appeal to this Court. This Court, on its own motions, questioned its jurisdiction since the order appealed from held a rule of court unconstitutional. We then transferred the appeal to the Supreme Court pursuant to Pa. R.A.P. 751. The Supreme Court remanded the appeal to this Court by an order dated December 14, 1984, to decide whether jurisdiction
[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 293]
over this matter lies with this Court or with the Supreme Court pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 722(7) which vests jurisdiction in the Supreme Court when a lower court decision holds a statute unconstitutional. Accordingly, we begin with the determination of this issue.
Pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 742, the Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction of all appeals from final orders of the Court of Common Pleas regardless of the nature of the controversy or the amount involved, except such classes of appeals as are by any provision of this Chapter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or the Commonwealth Court.
Under 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 722(7) the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction of appeals from final orders of the Courts of Common Pleas in:
(7) Matters where the court of common pleas has held invalid as repugnant to the Constitution, treaties or laws of the United States, or to the Constitution of this Commonwealth, any treaty or law of the United States or any provision of the Constitution of, or of any statute of, this Commonwealth, or any provision of any home rule charter.
Although our appellate courts have held that rules of civil procedure have the force or effect of statutes, e.g., Dombrowski v. Philadelphia, 431 Pa. 199, 245 A.2d 238 (1968); In Re: Schofield, 362 Pa. 201, 66 A.2d 675 (1949); Lojeski v. Quirk, 202 Pa. Superior Ct. 471, 198 A.2d 410 (1964), they have not held that rules of court are statutes for purposes of appellate jurisdiction. Indeed, the Supreme Court has, by ...