Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Erie County, No. 3221-A-1986.
Thomas S. Talarico, Erie, for appellant.
Will J. Schaaf, Erie, for appellee.
Rowley, Del Sole and Johnson, JJ.
[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 450]
This is an appeal from an order sustaining the defendant's preliminary objections, striking off the plaintiff's complaint, and dismissing the plaintiff's "suit." We affirm in part and reverse in part.
Plaintiff/appellant was injured in an automobile accident. Her attorney, a licensed lawyer in the state of Ohio, filed a complaint on her behalf in Erie County, Pennsylvania against defendant/appellee. The defendant was served, and his counsel filed preliminary objections in the nature of a motion to strike off the complaint because of lack of
[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 451]
conformity to law or rule of court. Defendant argued that there were three defects in the complaint: 1) the complaint demanded relief for a specific dollar amount rather than in an unspecified amount that was either more or less than $10,000 in violation of Pa.R.C.P. 1021; 2) the complaint was not endorsed with the name and address of an attorney within the Commonwealth in violation of Pa.R.C.P. 1025; and 3) the complaint was not properly verified as required by Pa.R.C.P. 1024.
Within fifteen days after the preliminary objections were filed and sent by defendant's counsel to plaintiff's Ohio counsel in Cleveland, an appearance was entered on plaintiff's behalf by an Erie County law firm, and an amended complaint correcting the defects in the original complaint was filed. Defendant then filed supplemental preliminary objections in which the original preliminary objections were incorporated and an additional averment was included stating that since the initial complaint was a "nullity," the amended complaint could not carry the same term and number as the initial complaint.
Following oral argument, the trial court made an order granting the defendant's motion to strike off the complaint and dismissing the suit. The trial court also filed an opinion in which he stated that failure to have the complaint endorsed with the name and address of an attorney licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania rendered the initial complaint a nullity and for this reason he dismissed the complaint. This appeal followed.
The issue before us on appeal is one of first impression for an appellate court of this Commonwealth: does the endorsement of a complaint filed in Pennsylvania by an attorney authorized to practice law in a jurisdiction other than Pennsylvania constitute a substantive defect thereby rendering the complaint a nullity ...