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Kim Sulkava, As Administratrix of the Estate of Jarmo Sulkava, and In Her Own Right v. Glaston Finland Oy; Glaston Usa

September 28, 2012

KIM SULKAVA, AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF JARMO SULKAVA, AND IN HER OWN RIGHT, APPELLANT
v.
GLASTON FINLAND OY; GLASTON USA, INC.; GLASTON AMERICA, INC.; GLASTON NORTH AMERICA, INC.; UNIGLASS ENGINEERING OY; MENOTIE 4; AND ROCHESTER INSULATED GLASS, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Orders entered on August 23, 2011 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, No. GD-10-006582

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Musmanno, J.

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., MUSMANNO and PLATT*fn1 , JJ.

OPINION BY MUSMANNO, J.:

In these consolidated appeals, Kim Sulkava ("Sulkava"), as Administratrix of the Estate of her late husband, Jarmo Sulkava ("the decedent"), and in her own right, appeals from two separate Orders, one of which granted the Preliminary Objections ("PO's") filed by Rochester Insulated Glass ("RIG"), and the other Order granted the PO's filed by Uniglass Engineering Oy ("Uniglass") and Glaston Finland Oy (collectively "the Glaston Finnish entities"), Glaston USA, Inc., Glaston America, Inc., and Glaston North America, Inc. (collectively "the Glaston American entities"), and Menotie 4.*fn2 Additionally, the Glaston appellees have filed a Motion to quash Sulkava's appeal. We reverse and deny the Motion to quash. The trial court set forth the facts underlying this appeal as follows:

This action was brought pursuant to Pennsylvania's Wrongful Death and Survival Act as the result of the death of [the decedent] on April 2, 2008. The decedent was killed while working on business premises owned by [RIG located] in Manchester, New York[.] The [decedent] was helping to commission two new [glass] tempering furnaces when he cam[e] into contact with energized bus bars, experienced electric shock injuries[,] and died at the worksite in Manchester, New York. [In August 2010, Sulkava filed suit] in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania,*fn3 against [(1)] Glaston Finland [Oy], a corporation existing under the laws of Finland[; (2)] Glaston USA[, Inc.], a corporation existing under the laws of Pennsylvania with a principal place of business in New Jersey and with a registered agent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania[; (3)] Glaston North America[, Inc.], a corporation organized under the laws of either Pennsylvania or North Carolina, maintaining a principal place of business in North Carolina with a registered agent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania[; (4) Glaston America, Inc., a corporation existing under the laws of Pennsylvania with a principal place of business in New Jersey and with a registered agent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; (5)] Uniglass, a corporation existing [under] the laws of Finland[; and (6) RIG], a New York corporation with no office or registered agent within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

[Prior to the decedent's death,] Uniglass had entered into an agreement with [RIG to supply and install the tempering furnaces at issue at RIG's facility in Manchester, New York.*fn4 ] This contract was not negotiated, signed or entered into in Allegheny County or in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. None of the Glaston [appellees] performed any acts in Pennsylvania or in Allegheny County relative to the claims brought by the [E]state of [the decedent]. None of the Glaston [appellees] performed any actions or engaged in any conduct pertaining to the contract with RIG or manufactured, sold, and/or serviced any equipment being worked on [by the decedent] at the time of his accident in New York.

Trial Court Opinion, 12/16/11, at 1-2 (unnumbered, footnotes added).

In response to Sulkava's Complaint, RIG and the Glaston appellees filed separate PO's asserting that the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over all of the defendants and that Allegheny County is an improper venue. Following discovery that was limited to the issues of personal jurisdiction and venue, the trial court entered two separate Orders on August 23, 2011. One of the Orders granted RIG's PO's and dismissed Sulkava's Complaint against RIG, and the other Order granted the Glaston appellees' PO's and dismissed Sulkava's Complaint against those entities. On September 20, 2011,

Sulkava timely filed a single Notice of appeal regarding both of the August 23, 2011 Orders. In response to Sulkava's Notice of appeal, this Court sent a letter to Sulkava's counsel stating as follows:

Pursuant to the note to Pa.R.A.P. 512, only one order per appeal is permissible in [the] Superior Court. If counsel wishes to appeal more than one order, he must file a separate appeal for each order. When counsel amends his appeal to reflect the one order being appealed, or files an additional appeal, kindly return this appeal -- or the appeals -- to our office.

Superior Court Correspondence, 9/26/11. Ten days later, Sulkava's counsel filed an Amended Notice of appeal from the Order granting RIG's PO's, and a separate Amended Notice of appeal from the Order granting the Glaston appellees' PO's.

Subsequently, the Glaston appellees filed a Motion to quash with this Court. According to the Glaston appellees, Sulkava failed to preserve her appeal against them because her initial Notice of appeal was improperly taken from two separate Orders, and Sulkava had filed her Amended Notices of appeal after the expiration of the thirty-day appeals period set forth in Pa.R.A.P. 903. The Motion to quash is presently before this panel for consideration, which we will address prior to considering Sulkava's issues on appeal.

As a general rule, "[t]aking one appeal from separate judgments is not acceptable practice and is discouraged." Gen. Elec. Credit Corp. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 263 A.2d 448, 452 (Pa. 1970); see also Pa.R.A.P. 512, Note (same). In TCPF, L.P. v. Skatell, 976 A.2d 571 (Pa. Super. 2009), this Court was presented with the same procedural defect involved in the instant appeal, i.e., the appellant's filing of a single notice of appeal from two separate trial court orders and the subsequent filing of an untimely amended notice of appeal. The Skatell Court denied the appellee's motion to quash the appeal, holding that "where ... Appellant filed a timely, albeit discouraged, appeal of multiple orders and filed a subsequent amended appeal, no fatal defect exists and the mandates of judicial economy require that the appeal be heard." Id. at 574 n.4.

Here, in response to Sulkava's initial, timely Notice of appeal, this Court sent a letter to Sulkava's counsel granting him permission to amend the appeal to remedy the procedural defect. Sulkava's counsel filed two Amended Notices of appeal soon after receiving this Court's letter. However, the amended appeals were filed forty-four days after the entry of the Orders appealed from. Nevertheless, like the Court in Skatell, we find that "no fatal defect exists and the ...


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