Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of John C. Keisling v. Carlynton School District, No. 6424 of 1978.
Raymond F. Keisling, Will, Keisling, Ganassi & McCloskey, for appellant.
Larry P. Gaitens, Gaitens & Tucceri, P.C., for appellee.
Judges Colins and Palladino, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
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John C. Keisling (appellant) was formerly a high school principal in the Carlynton School District (appellee). Because of an administrative reorganization, the appellant was reassigned to the position of elementary
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school principal. Appellant was displeased with this reassignment and consequently appealed to the School Board; however, during the course of that appeal, the parties reached a settlement, and executed a contract reflecting the terms of this settlement. The contract provided that appellant would accept the reassignment without a reduction in salary and that his salary scale would be that presently in effect for a high school principal.
The following year a dispute arose between the parties concerning computation of appellant's salary increase, which appellant asserted would have been larger if computed according to the terms of the settlement agreement. Therefore, he filed an action in assumpsit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.*fn1 The matter proceeded to arbitration, and an award was entered for the appellee, from which appellant appealed to the trial court, demanding a jury trial.
Pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. No. 212, and an Order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 9 Pa. B. 3936 (1979),*fn2
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the trial court scheduled a pre-trial/conciliation conference for March 1, 1982, and assigned a trial date of March 11, 1982. Both dates were published in the Pittsburgh Legal Journal pursuant to Allegheny County Local Rule (A.L.R.) No. 212(II).*fn3 The appellant's attorney does not dispute that this notice was given, nor its adequacy, but forthrightly admits his failure to read the notice. Because he was unaware that a pre-trial conference was scheduled, he failed to file a pre-trial statement, containing a list of damages and witnesses, as required by A.L.R. No. 212 (VI) (A) (1). He also failed to appear at the conference.
Upon written motion of the appellee, the trial court imposed sanctions upon the appellant for his attorney's failure to attend the pre-trial conference and to file a pre-trial statement. Specifically, the trial court issued an order prohibiting the appellant from presenting any evidence on liability or damages. Further, the court directed that the case go to trial without a jury, considering appellant's failure to appear a waiver of his jury demand. Appellant's attorney asked the court to reconsider, and the court subsequently modified its order, permitting the appellant to present his own testimony and such other evidence as had been presented at the arbitration hearing, ...