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Gerold v. Vehling

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

April 11, 2014

Arthur Gerold
v.
Barbara Vehling, Susan Hewitt, James Hewitt. Appeal of: Susan Hewitt and James Hewitt

Submitted March 28, 2014

Appealed from No. 0609091-28-1. Common Pleas Court of the County of Bucks. Bateman, Jr., J.

Susan Hewitt, Pro se.

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, President Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 768

DAN PELLEGRINI, President Judge

Susan Hewitt (Hewitt), pro se, appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County (trial court) granting Maris C. Langford, Esquire, (Attorney Langford) leave to withdraw as Hewitt's counsel from the underlying replevin action.[1] For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Page 769

Arthur Gerold (Gerold), Hewitt's father, filed the replevin action in 2006 in response to a family dispute over property following the death of his wife and Hewitt's mother, Marilyn Gerold. The parties ultimately executed a written settlement agreement on May 15, 2008, which was made into an order of the court on June 3, 2009. In February 2010, Attorney Langford entered her appearance on behalf of Hewitt by filing a Petition to Enforce Written Settlement Agreement. On April 23, 2010, the parties entered into an agreement whereby Gerold withdrew his action in replevin and agreed to follow the terms of the May 15, 2008 settlement agreement. As a result of the April 23, 2010 agreement, the case became inactive and the trial court granted Gerold's counsel leave to withdraw. No further action was taken by any party in the case until Attorney Langford filed a Petition for Leave to Withdraw as Counsel for Hewitt in January 2013. In her Petition, Attorney Langford cited the following reasons for her desire to withdraw: (1) Hewitt's insistence that she withdraw; (2) Hewitt's failure to pay the balance due on statement for services dated April 23, 2010; and (3) Hewitt's demands that were beyond the scope of her representation.

In April 2013, Hewitt filed a motion opposing Attorney Langford's Petition for Leave to Withdraw as Counsel in which she stated: " The Complaint I paid for was never heard, I believe I was the Plaintiff. Lawsuit attached." Attached to the motion was the Petition to Enforce Written Settlement Agreement filed by Attorney Langford. On April 16, 2013, the trial court granted Attorney Langford leave to withdraw as Hewitt's counsel. In its subsequent opinion, the trial court explained:

It is apparent from the case history why this Court entered its Order permitting counsel to withdraw her appearance. Both the replevin case and the Petition to Enforce Written Settlement were concluded by entry of the agreement made April 23, 2010. As such, Attorney Langford's withdraw[al] would not have material adverse effects on [Hewitt]. Additionally, as of January 18, 2013, [Hewitt] had failed to pay the balance due on statement for services dated April 23, 2010.
Further, we note that as a general matter an Order which permits counsel to withdraw their appearance does not constitute a final Order from which an appeal properly may be taken. Pa. R.A.P. 341.

(Trial Court's August 9, 2013 Opinion at 2-3). This appeal by Hewitt followed in which she makes various allegations relating to Attorney Langford's representation and handling of the disputed property in the replevin case.

Initially, we must determine whether we have jurisdiction over Hewitt's appeal. As a general rule, an appellate court's jurisdiction extends only to review of final orders. Rae v. Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, 602 Pa. 65, 71, 977 A.2d 1121, 1124-25 (2009); Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure ...


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