Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Civil at No. X 2383 of 1985.
Charles F. Bennett, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Paul M. Daniels, Pittsburgh, for American Excelsior, Participating Party.
Montemuro, Johnson and Cercone, JJ.
[ 385 Pa. Super. Page 527]
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County denying appellant's petition for counsel fees and costs. We reverse.
Pursuant to a writ of execution based on a judgment entered against appellees, appellant arranged a sheriff's levy against certain goods in two of appellees' six stores. Six suppliers of those goods, to whom payment had not been fully rendered, filed property claims with the sheriff, who stayed sale and issued determinations that the claimants were prima facie owners of the property. Appellant's objections to these decisions activated a sheriff's interpleader proceeding under Pa.R.C.P. 3206(b),*fn1 which was resolved
[ 385 Pa. Super. Page 528]
by the trial court in appellant's favor. However, appellant's Petition to obtain counsel fees and costs was denied on the grounds that 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 2503*fn2 cited in support of such recovery was inapplicable to a sheriff's interpleader action. This appeal followed.
In its supporting opinion, the trial court excludes § 2503 from consideration, reasoning that sheriff's interpleader is intended to fulfill a different and incompatible purpose than settling competing claims, that is, only to
"protect the Sheriff from the hazard and expense of actions which might otherwise be brought against him by persons claiming the goods on which he had levied and were not the party against whom the process had issued." (T.C.O. at 2).
Having posited this premise, the court goes on to explain that appellant, having received disposition in its favor both as to title, as between appellant and the claimants, and as to financial liability, between appellant and appellee, should not now
be further enriched by collection of counsel fees from parties who were, by [appellant's] actions, forced to defend their title ...