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WILLIAM LOUGH AND MARGARET LOUGH v. KATHRYN SPRING (03/31/89)

filed: March 31, 1989.

WILLIAM LOUGH AND MARGARET LOUGH, APPELLANTS,
v.
KATHRYN SPRING, APPELLEE (TWO CASES)



Appeal from the Order entered on February 19, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Civil Division, at No. 83-11721. Appeal from the Order entered on March 1, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Civil Division, at No. 83-11721.

COUNSEL

Philip M. Kruger, Fort Washington, for appellants.

Jeffery P. Lewis, West Chester, for appellee.

Rowley, Wieand, and Beck, JJ.

Author: Beck

[ 383 Pa. Super. Page 87]

Appellants, William and Margaret Lough, appeal from an order quashing their appeal from a compulsory arbitration award to the court of common pleas and refusing to allow the filing of the appeal nunc pro tunc.

The issues before the court are (1) whether a motion to strike a compulsory arbitration award can be deemed to initiate an appeal for a trial de novo in the court of common pleas; and (2) whether a stay of an arbitration award by the court of common pleas will extend the time for filing an appeal from the award.

We conclude that appellants' motion to strike was not in compliance with the rules governing an appeal from a compulsory arbitration award and that the Court of Common Pleas could not properly stay the running of the appeal period. In light of these conclusions, we rule that appellants failed to file a timely appeal from the award and affirm the orders of the trial court quashing the appeal and denying the petition for an appeal nunc pro tunc.

Appellants brought an action in trespass against appellee, Kathryn Spring, as a result of an automobile collision between the parties. The dispute was subject to compulsory arbitration. On December 27, 1984, the arbitration panel found each party fifty percent negligent and gave appellants no award. On December 28, 1984, an award in the amount of no dollars was docketed.

On January 7, 1985, appellants filed with the court of common pleas a motion to strike the arbitration award. The intent of appellants' motion was to have a new arbitration panel hear the case. On January 10, 1985, the court entered a rule to show cause why the motion to strike should not be granted. As part of that rule, the court ordered all proceedings stayed, including the time for appeal. On March 8, 1985, the motion to strike was denied and the stay dissolved as the court of common pleas concluded

[ 383 Pa. Super. Page 88]

    that an appeal for a trial de novo before the court of common pleas was the sole remedy available to challenge an arbitration award.

On April 8, 1985, appellants filed an appeal for a trial de novo from the award of the arbitration panel. The appeal was quashed as untimely. The court of common pleas ruled that the first ten days of the thirty day appeal period ran from the date of the arbitration decision until the day appellants filed their motion to strike, that the stay had the effect of excluding from the appeal period all the time after the filing of the motion to strike up to the time of the dissolution of the stay, and that the appeal period renewed after the dissolution of the stay. Thus, the court of common pleas found that appellants' appeal of April 8th was filed twenty nine days after the dissolution of the stay and thirty nine days after the beginning of the period for appeal.

Motion to strike

Appellants first assert that their appeal from the decision of the arbitration panel is not untimely because they filed a motion to strike the arbitration award within ten days of that decision. Appellants argue that the motion to strike should be considered to have initiated the appeal process because it represents only a technical noncompliance with the rules of procedure, appellee would not be prejudiced, appellants acted in good faith in ...


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