Appeal from the Judgment of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania of April 12, 1985 at No. 2010 Philadelphia 1984, Affirming the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Philadelphia County, November Term 1983, No. 2066, Entered on June 15, 1984, and July 2, 1984. Pa. Superior Ct. , A.2d (1984).
Thomas F. Reilly, Philadelphia, for appellants.
James E. Beasley, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Nix, C.j., and Flaherty, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Nix, C.j., files a dissenting opinion. Hutchinson, J., files a dissenting opinion. Larsen and McDermott, JJ., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
Appellants seek reversal of a sanction order imposed on them by the trial court for failing to answer interrogatories. Review by this tribunal was granted both in order to examine the relationship between state and local rules of civil procedure and, as well, because we felt a particular need to inquire (improvidently so, we now believe) into an
action in which the Appellee is a sitting judge in this Commonwealth.
Appellants are defendants in a libel suit. On January 19, 1984, they were served with a set of nine interrogatories seeking the facts and law behind the defenses which they had raised in their New Matter. The record indicates that they failed to respond to the interrogatories within the mandated thirty-day period; they also failed to provide answers or objections pursuant to a subsequent agreement by both counsel in this case; and finally, they did not appear at the court's hearing on plaintiff's motion for sanctions held on May 3, 1984. Although they were required then to answer the motion within three weeks, and also were granted an extension of ten days, they again did not reply, and the motion was decided as uncontested.
Sanctions then were applied pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. No. 4019 which holds, in pertinent part that:
(a)(1) The court may, on motion, make an appropriate order if
(i) a party fails to serve answers, sufficient answers or objections to written ...