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State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Lincow

December 1, 2009

STATE FARM MUT. AUTOMOBILE INS. CO. AND STATE FARM FIRE AND CAS. CO.,
v.
ARNOLD LINCOW, D.O., ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. Rueter Chief United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Presently before the court is the Motion of Lawrence Forman, D.O. ("Dr. Forman") for a Determination of His Claim for Exemption from Attachment and Execution of Certain Assets (the "Motion") (Doc. No. 924). The assets in question are four sets of season tickets to the 2009-2010 season of the Philadelphia Eagles (the "Eagles Tickets"), a professional football team. The Motion was referred to the undersigned for decision by the Honorable Eduardo C. Robreno.*fn1

I. BACKGROUND

On March 29, 2009, Judge Robreno entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs and against all defendants, including Dr. Forman, for $4,049,741 in compensatory damages. (Doc. No. 593.) In addition, the court entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs and against Dr. Forman in the amount of $600,000 in punitive damages. Id. On June 22, 2009, plaintiffs filed a Praecipe for Writ of Execution (the "Writ") to the Philadelphia Eagles, LLC (the "Eagles"), as garnishee, for "all property and/or monies of [Forman] possessed by garnishee." Id. In response to the Writ, the Eagles advised that Dr. Forman is a party to a certain Ticket Agreement with the Eagles and a Stadium Builder License Agreement ("SBL Agreement") with the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development ("PAID"). As a result of the Writ, the Eagles have not delivered the Eagles Tickets to Dr. Forman. By his Motion, Dr. Forman requests the court to determine that all rights, titles, interest, and proceeds arising from the Ticket Agreement and the SBL Agreement, including the Eagles Tickets, are exempt from garnishment and execution for collection of the judgment entered against Dr. Forman.

II. DISCUSSION

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 69, the procedure to enforce a judgment by a Writ of Execution "must accord with the procedure of the state where the court is located, but a federal statute governs to the extent it applies." The parties agree that the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure govern the claim of exemption filed by Dr. Forman. See Pa. R. Civ. P. 3123.1. On November 24, 2009, the court held an evidentiary hearing during which counsel for the parties, including counsel for the Eagles, appeared and presented argument. In addition, Dr. Forman and his wife, Linda Forman, testified under oath.

Dr. Forman claims that the Eagles Tickets are exempt from execution because they are owned by him and his wife as tenants by the entireties. Under Pennsylvania law, a judgment creditor may execute on property held by husband and wife as tenants by the entireties only if both spouses are judgment debtors. Klebach v. Mellon Bank, N.A., 565 A.2d 448, 450 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1989). If only one spouse is the judgment debtor, entireties property is immune from process, execution, or sale. Id. Here, the judgment entered by Judge Robreno is only against Dr. Forman. Thus, if Dr. Forman is correct that the Eagles Tickets are entireties property owned jointly by him and his wife, the Eagles Tickets, and the license related thereto, are exempt from execution under Pennsylvania law.

At the evidentiary hearing, Dr. Forman and his wife credibly testified that they both have been season ticket holders with the Eagles since 1975, and that their account number has consistently been number 1078488. For the most part, they used monies from a joint checking account to pay for the season tickets and, on many occasions, both Dr. Forman and his wife attended the games in person. Mrs. Forman testified that when she did not attend the games, their son usually attended with her husband.

On December 9, 2000, the Philadelphia Eagles and the City of Philadelphia agreed to build a new stadium. See www.lincolnfinancialfield.com. In preparation for the opening of the new stadium, season ticket holders were required to purchase a "Stadium Builder License" from PAID. The evidence shows that Dr. Forman and his wife sent a check on a joint bank account in the amount of $3,060.00 for payment of the license fee and another check for $2,803.00 for the tickets. (N.T., 11/24/09, at 45; Ex. D-5 (check dated 9/01/01); Ex. D-7 (check dated 4/28/03); Ex. D-8 (check dated 2/27/03).)

On or about February 14, 2002, PAID prepared the SBL Agreement. The SBL Agreement references the existing account number for Dr. and Mrs. Forman, i.e., number 1078488. The SBL Agreement lists on the top left hand corner, directly under the title "Stadium Builder License Agreement," the names "Dr. and Mrs. L. Forman," with an address of 2428 Route 38, Suite 306, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002. See Ex. D-4. In the right hand corner of the SBL Agreement, the following contact information is listed:

Contact: Dr. & Mrs. L. Forman

Work #: xxx/xxx-xxxx Home #: xxx/xxx-xxxx

Id.

On the same date, the Eagles sent Dr. and Mrs. Forman a "Ticket Agreement," which listed the same information at the top of the agreement, that is, Dr. and Mrs. Forman both were listed in the left hand corner along with their address, and Dr. and Mrs. Forman both were ...


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