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[U] Plum Property Associates, Inc. v. Mineral Trading Co., LLC

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

September 24, 2013

PLUM PROPERTY ASSOCIATES, INC., Appellant
v.
MINERAL TRADING COMPANY, LLC, JAMES R. CLARKE, JONATHAN LASKO, AND MELISSA HENNIS, Appellees
v.
YODER & FREY AUCTIONEERS, INC., Appellee PLUM PROPERTY ASSOCIATES, INC., Appellant
v.
MINERAL TRADING COMPANY, LLC, JAMES R. CLARKE, JONATHAN LASKO, AND MELISSA HENNIS, Appellees
v.
YODER & FREY AUCTIONEERS, INC., Appellee

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order Entered February 24, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County Civil Division at No(s): 32323 of 2011

Appeal from the Order Entered June 20, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County Civil Division at No(s): 32323 of 2011

BEFORE: BOWES, DONOHUE, and MUNDY, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

BOWES, J.

Plum Property Associates, Inc. ("Plum") filed the present appeals after the trial court determined that Yoder & Frey Auctioneers, Inc. ("Yoder") was not liable to it in this garnishment action as Yoder never was in possession of property owned by Plum's judgment debtor, and after the court awarded Yoder attorneys' fees. We affirm.

This action concerns money owed to Plum by Mineral Trading Company LLC. ("Mineral"). On September 12, 2011, Plum instituted the present action by filing an exemplification of record of debt owed to Plum by Mineral in the amount of $85, 736.67. This sum represented an award entered in a proceeding initiated in Allegheny County at GD-10-1816. Plum simultaneously filed a praecipe for writ of execution and served that writ along with interrogatories in aid of execution on Yoder. Plum sought the proceeds of the sale of industrial machinery at an auction that Yoder was going to conduct on September 22, 2011. Yoder was an auctioneer of heavy equipment in the United States with its headquarters located in Holland, Ohio. Plum took the position that the machinery to be auctioned on September 22, 2011, was owned by Mineral and subject to execution to satisfy Plum's judgment. Yoder ascertained that the machinery in question was owned by Bill Miller Equipment Sales, Inc. ("BME").

On October 5, 2011, without previous notice, Plum obtained entry of default judgment by the Beaver County Prothonotary against Yoder due to Yoder's failure to answer the interrogatories in aid of execution. Plum also failed to notify Yoder that Plum had praeciped for entry of default judgment. Yoder did not become aware of the default judgment until after Plum served it with a motion requesting that a hearing be scheduled for the assessment of damages on the default judgment. Yoder promptly filed a motion to strike or open the default judgment.

After Yoder filed its motion to open or strike the default judgment, the parties engaged in discovery. The matter proceeded to a nonjury trial on January 27, 2012, in which Yoder presented witnesses and documentary proof that the equipment that it auctioned was owned by BME rather than Mineral.

On February 24, 2012, the trial court issued a memorandum and order. It granted Yoder's motion to strike the default judgment, and it also determined that the September 22, 2011 auction involved property owned by BME. A copy of the February 24, 2012 order was entered on the docket on February 28, 2012, and the prothonotary sent notice of its entry that same day. Plum thereafter filed a timely motion for post-trial relief.

On March 15, 2012, before resolving Pum's pending post-trial motion, the trial court entered an order dismissing the garnishment action and entering judgment against Plum. On March 23, 2012, Yoder filed a motion for attorneys' fees to which Plum did not file a response. On May 25, 2012, the trial court entered an order denying Plum's motion for post-trial relief and again directing the prothonotary to enter judgment in favor of Yoder in this garnishment proceeding. On June 21, 2012, Plum filed a timely appeal at 1001 WDA 2012 from the May 25, 2012 order denying its post-trial motion and awarding judgment to Yoder. On June 18, 2012, the trial court granted Yoder's unopposed motion for attorneys' fees, and Plum thereafter filed a timely notice of appeal from that order at 1112 WDA 2012. The appeals were consolidated for purposes of disposition.

Plum presents these issues challenging the propriety of the determination that the auctioned items did not belong to its judgment debtor, Mineral:

1. Whether the lower court determined the November 12 Agreement extended the 80% purchase credit to purchase the equipment subject to the lease/purchase agreement between Mineral Trading Company, LLC ("MTC") and Bill Miller Equipment Co. ("BME") to June 30, 2011 based on the pledge of the three Komatsu trucks by MTC.
2. Whether the lower court addressed the lack of consideration for MTC's pledge of the three Komatsu trucks in the November 12 [2009] Agreement.
3. Whether the lower court considered that the auction proceeds relating to the three Komatsu trucks constituted property of [Mineral] ...

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