July 29, 2013
MICHAEL STAIGER, Appellee
KEVIN HOLOHAN, 200 E. AIRY ST., LLC AND GREEN AND AIRY LAUNDROMAT, LLC APPEAL OF: 200 E. AIRY ST., LLC, Appellant MICHAEL STAIGER, Appellee
KEVIN HOLOHAN, 200 E. AIRY ST., LLC AND GREEN AND AIRY LAUNDROMAT, LLC APPEAL OF: GREEN AND AIRY LAUNDROMAT, LLC Appellant MICHAEL STAIGER, Appellee
KEVIN HOLOHAN, 200 E. AIRY ST., LLC AND GREEN AND AIRY LAUNDROMAT, LLC APPEAL OF: KEVIN HOLOHAN, Appellant MICHAEL STAIGER, Appellee
KEVIN HOLOHAN, 200 E. AIRY ST., LLC AND GREEN AND AIRY LAUNDROMAT, LLC APPEAL OF: KEVIN HOLOHAN, Appellant
Appeal from the Order of March 26, 2010, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Civil Division at No. 2006-30412
Appeal from the Order of September 21, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Civil Division at No. 2006-30412
BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., LAZARUS and COLVILLE [*] , JJ.
At the appeals docketed at 3071 EDA 2012, 3073 EDA 2012, and 3074 EDA 2012, Appellants appeal from an order entered on March 26, 2010. With respect to the appeal docketed at 3075 EDA 2012, Appellant Kevin Holohan ("Holohan") appeals from an order entered on September 21, 2012. We quash the appeals.
The pertinent background underlying these appeals can be summarized in the following manner. Appellee Michael Staiger ("Staiger") and Holohan are business partners. They are joint members of two limited liability companies, Appellant 200 E. Airy, LLC and Appellant Green & Airy Laundromat, LLC (collectively referred to as "the LLCs"). Both Staiger and Holohan are fifty-percent members of the LLCs.
Staiger filed a complaint against Holohan seeking, inter alia, judicial dissolution of the LLCs pursuant to 15 Pa.C.S.A. § 8972. Staiger later filed a petition seeking a determination of whether the LLCs are indispensable parties or, alternatively, to join the LLCs as defendants. Holohan responded to the petition and filed a cross-motion to dismiss the action due to, inter alia, Staiger's failure to join the LLCs as indispensable parties. On March 26, 2010, the trial court filed an order denying Holohan's motion to dismiss and granting Staiger leave to join the LLCs. Thereafter, Staiger filed a complaint against Appellants.
On January 17, 2012, Staiger filed a motion for summary judgment. Without ruling on the motion, the court commenced a bench trial on April 2, 2012. After Staiger presented his evidence, Appellants moved for a non-suit. The court granted the motion. Staiger then filed a post-trial motion in which he requested that the court remove the non-suit.
On September 21, 2012, the court entered an order granting Staiger's post-trial motion, vacating the order granting the non-suit, granting Staiger's motion for summary judgment, appointing a liquidating trustee to sell and dispose of the LLCs' assets and creditors, and ordering that, upon the sale and disposition of the assets and payment of the creditors, the LLCs shall be dissolved pursuant to 15 Pa.C.S.A. § 8972.
On October 16, 2012, Holohan filed two notices of appeal. In one notice, he stated his desire to appeal the order entered on March 26, 2010. In the other notice, Holohan stated his intent to appeal the order entered on September 21, 2012. On October 18, 2012, the LLCs filed separate notices of appeal; both entities stated that they were appealing the order entered on March 26, 2010. The LLCs have filed a joint brief in this Court, and Holohan has filed a brief on his behalf. Appellants present a number of issues to this Court. Before we can consider those issues, we first must address the propriety of Appellants' notices of appeal and whether this Court has jurisdiction over the appeals.
Pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 742, this Court has jurisdiction over appeals from final orders. Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 341 defines "final order" as any order that, inter alia, "disposes of all claims and of all parties[.]" Pa.R.A.P. 341(b)(1). If a party appeals from the appropriate final order, then that party can challenge the final order and any order entered prior to the entry of the final order. See Morningstar v. Hallett, 858 A.2d 125, 126 n.1 (Pa. Super. 2004) (noting "that a notice of appeal from the entry of judgment will be viewed as drawing into question any prior non-final orders that produced the judgment").
Here, the September 21, 2012, order effectively ended the litigation of this matter; thus, that order, at least arguably, constitutes a final, appealable order. In the appeal docketed at 3075 EDA 2012, Holohan appealed from this order. However, for the reasons cited below, we conclude that this order was a legal nullity. The remaining appeals in this case attempt to initiate appeals from non-final, unappealable orders. For this reason, we quash the appeals docketed at 3071, 3073, and 3074 EDA 2012.
As to the September 21, 2012, order, the Rules of Civil Procedure clearly contemplate that motions for summary judgment are to be filed and ruled upon prior to trial. See, e.g., Pa.R.C.P. 1035.2 ("After the relevant pleadings are closed, but within such time as not to unreasonably delay trial, any party may move for summary judgment in whole or in part as a matter of law[.]") (emphasis added). Furthermore, in ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a trial court's scope of review is limited to a distinct evidentiary record. The Rules of Civil Procedure define this record as including pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, affidavits, and certain reports signed by expert witnesses. Pa.R.C.P. 1035.1. The rules do not allow a court to consider trial testimony in ruling on a motion for summary judgment, perhaps because such motions must be filed and ruled upon prior to trial.
In the matter sub judice, the trial court improperly granted a motion for summary judgment after a trial occurred, albeit a trial that was truncated by the court's decision to grant Appellants' motion for a nonsuit. Moreover, it is clear from the trial court's opinion that the court relied upon evidence presented at the trial in granting the motion for summary judgment. See, e.g., Trial Court Opinion, 12/13/12, at 6-9 (citing the notes of testimony from the April 2, 2012, trial in response to Appellants' claims that the court erred by granting the motion for summary judgment).
Because the trial court lacked the authority to enter the order granting summary judgment, the order is a legal nullity. An appealable order does not exist in this action. For all of the reasons cited above, we lack jurisdiction to entertain the appeals and, therefore, quash the appeals.
Appeals quashed. Case remanded.
I respectfully dissent from the Majority quashing all of the appeals before us. The Majority acknowledges that the September 21, 2012 order "effectively ended the litigation of this matter; thus, that order, at least arguably, constitutes a final, appealable order." Majority Memo at 5. However, concluding the trial court "improperly granted [the] motion for summary judgment [by virtue of the September 21, 2012 order] after a trial occurred, " the Majority finds the September 21, 2012 order to be a "legal nullity." Majority Memo at 7 (bold in original). The Majority reasons that since the September 21, 2012 order improperly entered summary judgment, "[a]n appealable order does not exist in this action." Majority Memo at 7. I disagree.
Assuming, arguendo, the trial court erred in entering summary judgment in favor of Staiger at this point in the proceedings, I find the proper remedy is to reverse and remand for further proceedings. Quashing the appeal, from what the Majority characterizes as, arguably, a final order, leaves the parties with no remedy. Moreover, I note that entry of the September 21, 2012 order rendered final the March 26, 2010 order such that issues related thereto are now arguably ripe for appeal. Thus, I respectfully dissent.