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[U] 22 Front Street LLC v. Fox Rothschild LLP

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 18, 2014

22 FRONT STREET LLC T/A 22 FRONT STREET, L.P. Appellant
v.
FOX ROTHSCHILD LLP, ROBERT S. TINTNER, ESQUIRE, AND BRETT A. BERMAN, ESQUIRE Appellee

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order Dated March 18, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County Civil Division at No(s): 2012-27183

BEFORE: BENDER, P.J., LAZARUS, J., and FITZGERALD, J. [*]

MEMORANDUM

LAZARUS, J.

22 Front Street ("22 Front") appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County entered on March 18, 2013, sustaining Fox Rothschild's preliminary objections and dismissing 22 Front's complaint. After careful review, we affirm.

The trial court ably summarized the facts and pertinent procedural history of this matter as follows:

The Defendants are the law firm Fox Rothschild, LLP and two of its lawyers, Robert S. Tintner, Esquire and Brett A Berman, Esquire, who represented condominium owners in a suit filed against 22 Front Street.
The Plaintiff, 22 Front Street, is the declarant of a condominium located at 22 Front Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 22 Front Street's original plan, which was to market its condominiums as boutique luxury properties[, ] ran into difficulty in 2009. Unable to make its payments on outstanding loans, and burdened with numerous unsold condominium units, 22 Front Street altered its original plan to sell units to the general public. In this change in marketing policy, 22 Front Street began seeking out bulk sales to an organization seeking to establish a retirement community. That organization was Friends Center City Riverfront ("Friends Center City"), which sought to purchase ten individual units and one commercial unit from 22 Front Street. Friends Center City and 22 Front Street allegedly entered into an agreement to enable the purchases in November 2009. According to 22 Front Street, the agreement provided for various non-medical services such as "the coordination of medical and health services for out-patient or in-home treatment, and the coordination of transitions to off-site inpatient health care facilities."
The prior purchasers of units from 22 Front Street (the "Residents") sought legal redress after meeting with Friends Center City in August 26, 2010. The Residents retained attorneys, [Fox Rothschild], to pursue a suit against 22 Front Street and Friends Center City. [Fox Rothschild] filed the underlying action on behalf of the Residents, against 22 Front Street and Friends Center City on October 1, 2010, which included a request for preliminary injunctive relief. The petition for preliminary injunctive relief in the Underlying Action was denied on November 15, 2010. On December 2, 2010, [Fox Rothschild] filed the Residents' Notice of Appeal from the preliminary injunction decision. Subsequently, Residents settled their claims against Friends Center City, and later withdrew their Appeal on August 18, 2011.
A Third Amended Complaint was filed in the Underlying Action on August 2, 2011. The Third Amended Complaint contains many of the original claims against 22 Front Street as asserted in the initial pleadings, including claims of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and violation of the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act. Pursuant to the Settlement with Friends Center City, no claims are asserted against Friends Center City in the Third Amended Complaint. While the Third Amended Complaint was pending in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, 22 Front Street initiated a four-count complaint against the Residents and [Fox Rothschild] in Philadelphia County ("Philadelphia Action"), alleging the same Dragonetti Act claims brought here, tortious interference with contract, abuse of process, and slander of title. Upon preliminary objections, Judge Glazer dismissed the Dragonetti Act claim of 22 Front Street against Defendants based on the fact that the Underlying Action had settled and had not terminated in favor of 22 Front Street.
In September of 2012, 22 Front Street settled with the Residents in both the Philadelphia and the Underlying Actions, entering into a global settlement agreement. This settlement agreement completely concluded the Underlying Action, and all parties to the Underlying Action have now amicably resolved their claims. In the settlement, among other things, 22 Front Street agreed to build a roof deck, which was one of the demands made in the Underlying Action by [Fox Rothschild] while they represented the Residents. The Philadelphia Action is still pending between 22 Front Street and [Fox Rothschild], the same parties to this action. 22 Front Street filed the instant Complaint, alleging the same wrongful use of civil proceedings claim dismissed by Judge Glazer. [Fox Rothschild] filed preliminary objections. This Court sustained the preliminary objections and dismissed the Complaint with prejudice.

Trial Court Opinion, 6/18/13, at 1-3. This timely appeal followed.

On appeal, Front Street presents the following issues for our review:

1. Whether the trial court erred as a matter of law by dismissing 22 Front's Complaint on the ...

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