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10/21/97 MARSHALL RUBY AND SONS v. DELTA MINING

October 21, 1997

MARSHALL RUBY AND SONS, APPELLANT
v.
DELTA MINING COMPANY, APPELLEE V. STANLEY MICHAEL JEFFERYS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the ORDER December 30, 1996, Docketed January 2, 1997, in the Court of Common Pleas of BEDFORD County, CIVIL, No. 29 FOR THE YEAR 1996 E.D. No. 506 FOR THE YEAR 1996 C.D. Before HOWSARE, J.

Before: Popovich, Saylor, and Olszewski, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Olszewski

OPINION BY OLSZEWSKI, J:

Filed October 21, 1997

On July 31, 1992, a $25,413.66 judgment was entered against Delta Mining Company (Delta) in the Allegany County Circuit Court in Maryland. This judgment, in favor of Marshall Ruby & Sons (Ruby), made final a default judgment in the same amount which Ruby obtained after Delta failed to pay Ruby for certain heavy equipment repair services.

In order to satisfy the judgment, Ruby attempted to execute upon several pieces of construction equipment including, inter alia, a Pettibone L-50 hydraulic crane which was in the possession of the Brenlee Corporation (Brenlee). Ruby alleged that the execution was lawful because, although Brenlee possessed the crane, actual ownership remained with Delta at the time of the levy. Brenlee, in turn, filed a motion for release of property and, in support thereof, averred that it was the record owner of the crane.

After holding two hearings which addressed the parties' claims of entitlement, the Maryland Circuit Court denied Brenlee's motion for release. In so doing, the court held that Brenlee had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it owned the disputed property at the time Ruby levied upon it. Title, therefore, remained with Delta and the crane was subject to execution in satisfaction of the $25,416.66 debt.

Prior to the time that Ruby could take possession of the crane from Brenlee to satisfy the judgment against Delta, Stanley Michael Jeffreys, an officer of Brenlee, moved the equipment from Maryland to Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Claiming that Jeffreys had tortiously interfered with its right of possession, Ruby filed suit against Jeffreys in Maryland for the estimated value of the crane.

On February 1, 1995, the case against Jeffreys proceeded to a non-jury trial before the Honorable Paul J. Stakem. After receiving testimony, the court concluded that, although Jeffreys was aware of the prior court holding that Brenlee had no legal interest in the crane, Jeffreys moved the property out of the jurisdiction. Further, the court held that Jeffreys' continued possession of the crane, and his refusal to disclose its exact whereabouts, was tortious. Judgment was therefore entered in favor of Ruby for $10,000, the estimated value of the crane.

In November of 1995, Ruby filed a statement of foreign judgment in the Court of Common Pleas of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Said statement evidenced the $10,000 judgment Ruby obtained against Jeffreys in Maryland. On May 14, 1996, Jeffreys satisfied the $10,000 judgment in full.

On July 30, 1996, Ruby filed a second statement of foreign judgment in the Bedford County Court of Common Pleas. This second statement reflected the $25,413.66 judgment entered in Maryland against Delta and in favor of Ruby. Ruby next filed a praecipe for writ of execution in Bedford County indicating Ruby's wish to levy upon the hydraulic crane still possessed by Jeffreys in order to satisfy the judgment against Delta.

A sheriff's sale was scheduled for November 7, 1996. Prior to the sale, however, Jeffreys filed an objection in the Bedford County Court of Common Pleas. Therein, Jeffreys claims actual ownership of the crane, tracing title from Delta to Brenlee to Jeffreys. In response, Ruby filed a petition for supplementary relief in aid of execution pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 3118. Said petition requests the immediate release of the crane from Jeffreys to Ruby in full satisfaction of the $25,413.66 debt owed to Ruby from Delta.

On November 7, 1996, the Court of Common Pleas held a hearing on Jeffreys' objections and Ruby's petition. After receiving testimony and exhibits from Ruby and Jeffreys, the court denied Ruby supplementary relief. This appeal, wherein Ruby alleges that the trial court erred in determining that Jeffreys may retain possession of the disputed equipment, follows.

Pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 3318(a)(6), a judgment holder may, upon petition, request a court to enter an order granting "relief as may be deemed necessary and appropriate" in aid of execution. In interpreting this Rule, our Supreme Court has held that "Rule 3118 authorizes summary proceedings in aid of execution for the purpose of maintaining the status quo of the judgment debtor's property and may be used only for that purpose." Kaplan v. I. Kaplan, Inc., 422 Pa. Super. 215, ...


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