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PAUL D. SCHAFFER v. LITTON SYSTEMS (02/01/88)

filed: February 1, 1988.

PAUL D. SCHAFFER
v.
LITTON SYSTEMS, INC. AND DORR-OLIVER, INC. LINK BELT CO., A DIVISION OF FMC CORP., NAZARETH STEEL FABRICATORS, A DIVISION OF UNITED INDUSTRIAL SYNDICATE AND STERNS MAGNETICS, INC. AND REXNORD, INC. AND HARRISON CONSTRUCTION CO. AND BALDWIN BELTING, INC. V. GOODYEAR TIRE AND RUBBER CO. APPEAL OF DORR-OLIVER, INC., APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Philadelphia County at No. 6386 Nov. 82.

COUNSEL

Richard A. Kraemer, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Stephen M. Feldman, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Montemuro, Popovich and Cercone, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 124]

This is an appeal from an order of the trial court which denied a motion for reconsideration filed by appellant-defendant, Dorr-Oliver, Inc. We must reverse and remand the matter for proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

At the outset, we must address the jurisdictional issue, which is the subject of appellee's motion to quash. According to appellee, the order which forms the basis of the instant appeal, an order denying leave to amend new matter to plead the defense of a statute of repose, is interlocutory. Appellee states that by allowing an appeal in this case would contravene the policy against piecemeal appeals and protracted litigation. We disagree and must deny appellee's motion to quash for the reasons stated below.

We must apply the following general guidelines regarding the finality of orders:

Our decisions adhere to the principle that discouraging interlocutory appeals furthers the goals of judicial economy.

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 125]

"It is fundamental law in this Commonwealth that an appeal will lie only from final orders unless otherwise expressly permitted by statute." T.C.R. Realty, Inc. v. Cox, 472 Pa. 331, 337, 372 A.2d 721, 724 (1977). Discouraging interlocutory appeals avoids "piecemeal determinations and the consequent protraction of litigation." In re Marino['s] Estate, 440 Pa. 492, 494, 269 A.2d 645, 646 (1970) (quoting Sullivan v. Philadelphia, 378 Pa. 648, 649, 107 A.2d 854, 855 (1954)). As to what constitutes a final order, the Court in T.C.R. Realty stated:

[W]e have looked beyond the technical effect of the adjudication to its practical ramifications. Bell v. Consumer Discount Company, 465 Pa. 225, 348 A.2d 734 (1975). We have variously defined a final order as one which ends the litigation, or alternatively disposes of the entire case. Piltzer v. Independence Savings and Loan Association, 456 Pa. 402, 404, 319 A.2d 677, 678 (1974); James Banda, Inc. v. Virginia Manor Apartments, Inc., 451 Pa. 408, 409, 303 A.2d 925, 926 (1973). Conversely phrased, an order is interlocutory and not final unless it effectively puts the litigant "out of court." Ventura v. Skylark Motel, Inc., 431 Pa. 459, 463, 246 A.2d 353, 355 (1968). In Marino Estate, 440 Pa. 492, 494, 269 A.2d 645, 646 [1970], we said that an order is not interlocutory if it precludes a party from presenting the merits of his claim to the lower court.

T.C.R. Realty, Inc., supra, 472 Pa. at 337, 372 A.2d at 724.

Stevenson v. General Motors Corp., 513 Pa. 411, 417-418, 521 A.2d 413, 417 (1987).

Next, we must examine the statute of repose, which is the subject of appellant's request for leave to amend, and which is set forth in 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5536. Essentially, this statute eliminates all causes of action arising out of the negligence in construction or design of an improvement to real property which occurred more than twelve (12) years before the accident. Section 5536 reads as follows:

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 126]

§ 5536. Construction projects

(a) General rule. -- Except as provided in subsection (b), a civil action or proceeding brought against any person lawfully performing or furnishing the design, planning, supervision or observation of construction, or construction of any improvement to real property must be commenced within 12 years after completion of construction of such improvement to recover damages for:

(1) Any deficiency in the design, planning, supervision or observation of construction or construction of the improvement.

(2) Injury to property, real or personal, arising out of any such deficiency.

(3) Injury to the person or for wrongful death arising out of any such deficiency.

(4) Contribution or indemnity for damages sustained on account of any injury mentioned ...


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