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MIDDLESEX UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH UNITED STATES AMERICA v. MIDDLESEX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (11/18/87)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: November 18, 1987.

MIDDLESEX UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AN UNINCORPORATED ECCLESIASTICAL CONGREGATION, NOW BY MERGER KNOWN AS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, U.S.A., BY GEORGE MCLAUGHLIN AND LAVERNE BARTLEY, TRUSTEES AD LITEM AND MIDDLESEX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, A NON-PROFIT CORPORATION UNDER THE LAWS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, BY GEORGE MCLAUGHLIN AND LAVERNE BARTLEY, TRUSTEES AD LITEM, APPELLANTS
v.
MIDDLESEX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, AN UNINCORPORATED ECCLESIASTICAL CONGREGATION; REV. EARL F. FAIR, PASTOR, ET AL., APPELLEES

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County in the case of Middlesex United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, an unincorporated ecclesiastical congregation, now by merger known as Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., by George McLaughlin and LaVerne Bartley, Trustees ad Litem, and Middlesex Presbyterian Church, a non-profit corporation under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by George McLaughlin and LaVerne Bartley, Trustees ad Litem, Plaintiffs v. Middlesex Presbyterian Church, an unincorporated ecclesiastical congregation; Rev. Earl F. Fair, Pastor; Wencil Smithco, Donald Bauer, William Duncan, Elton Anderson, Mae Stepp, Wilbur Mowry, Jr., David Santori, Earl Kennedy, George Hendrickson, Wilbur Powell, and David Carney, individually and as former Elders of the Middlesex United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America; Frank Halstead, Gary Welsh and Jeffrey Anderson, individually and as former Trustees of the Middlesex United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Harry Fall, individually and as President of the non-profit corporation known as Middlesex Presbyterian Church; Jeffrey Anderson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the newly formed Middlesex Presbyterian Church in America, Defendants, A.D. No. 86-096, Book 127, Page 379.

COUNSEL

Lee A. Montgomery, with him, Lee C. McCandless, James E. Kerr, for appellants.

Roger C. Wiegand, with him, Kenneth K. Kilbert, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellees.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 145]

Appellants appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, which granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Appellees. The issue before the trial court was identical to the one raised before us and concerns the question of whether the instant suit is barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel. Our review of the law convinces us that the trial court properly disposed of the motion and, therefore, we shall affirm on the able and well-reasoned opinion of Judge John H. Brydon, A.D. No. 86-096, Book 127, page 379, filed October 30, 1986 and published at 44 Pa. D. & C. 3rd 98 (1987). Judge Brydon held, in summary, that the case of Presbytery of Beaver-Butler of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. v. Middlesex Presbyterian Church, 507 Pa. 255, 489 A.2d 1317 (1985), which action determined the ownership of the church property here in question, was a bar to the instant proceedings.*fn1

Order

Now, November 18, 1987, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County in the above-captioned matter is hereby affirmed.

Judge MacPhail did not participate in the decision in this case.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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