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MENTZER & RHEY v. BRUNO FERRARI (10/14/87)

filed: October 14, 1987.

MENTZER & RHEY, INC., A PENNSYLVANIA CORPORATION, BOB MENTZER FORD INC., A PENNSYLVANIA CORPORATION, AND C. ROBERT MENTZER AND LUCILLE F. MENTZER, HIS WIFE, INDIVIDUALLY
v.
BRUNO FERRARI, APPELLANT, V. MENTZER & RHEY, INC., A PENNSYLVANIA CORPORATION, CARL E. FISHER, AN INDIVIDUAL, B. ERNEST LONG, DONALD R. RIGONE, DAVID L. ROBINSON, AND WESLEY T. LONG TRADING AND DOING BUSINESS AS FISHER, LONG, & RIGONE



Appeal from the Judgment entered December 1, 1986, Court of Common pleas, Westmoreland County, Civil Division at No. 6291 of 1985.

COUNSEL

Alan K. Berk, Greensburg, for appellant.

Virginia C. Robinson, Pittsburgh, for appellees Mentzer & Rhey, Inc., Fisher, B. Ernest Long, Robinson and Wesley T. Long, appellees.

James A. Beinkemper, Sr., Pittsburgh, for appellee Rigone.

Rowley, Johnson and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Johnson

[ 367 Pa. Super. Page 124]

This is an appeal from the order of the trial court sustaining preliminary objections to appellant's complaint to join additional defendants. The issue raised is whether attorneys who performed a title search for buyers of property may be properly joined as third-party defendants under Pa.R.C.P. 2252(a) when the buyers sue the seller for damages resulting from an allegedly fraudulently concealed and defective culvert and the attorneys failed to discover the existence of the culvert in their title search. We now affirm the order of the trial court.

Appellant Bruno Ferrari, the original defendant, sold a parcel of land located in Westmoreland County to Mentzer and Rhey, Inc., an auto dealership, in August of 1970. On August 16, 1984 a portion of the land located on Mentzer & Rhey's used car lot collapsed, creating a dangerous hole. On September 20, 1985 Mentzer & Rhey filed an action for damages alleging the cause of the collapse to be a defective culvert constructed by Ferrari and also fraudulently concealed by him during the sales transaction. On June 9, 1984 Ferrari filed a complaint to join Fisher, Long and

[ 367 Pa. Super. Page 125]

Rigone, the law firm representing Mentzer & Rhey in the property sale. The complaint alleged that Mentzer & Rhey's lack of knowledge of the existence of the culvert was due entirely to the attorneys' negligence in performing the title search and that therefore the proposed third-party defendant attorneys should be solely liable to Mentzer & Rhey for damages or in the alternative should be jointly liable with original defendant.

The additional defendants filed preliminary objections alleging misjoinder of a cause of action. The Honorable Joseph A. Hudock sustained the preliminary objections in an order filed on December 1, 1986. Ferrari filed an appeal from this order to this Court on December 10, 1986.

The litigants frame the issue as whether Pa.R.C.P. 2252(a) permits Ferrari to join plaintiff's attorneys Fisher, Long and Rigone on the theory that the attorneys would be solely or jointly and severally liable for the damage to ...


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