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Spanier v. Freeh

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 30, 2014

GRAHAM B. SPANIER, Appellee
v.
LOUIS J. FREEH AND FREEH SPORKIN & SULLIVAN, LLP, Appellants

Argued May 21, 2014.

Page 343

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Centre County, Civil Division, No(s): 2013-2707. Before GRINE, J.

Elizabeth K. Ainslie, Philadelphia, for appellee.

BEFORE: PANELLA, J., LAZARUS, J., and JENKINS, J.

OPINION

Page 344

PANELLA, J.

Appellants, Louis Freeh and Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP (collectively " Freeh Sporkin" ), appeal from the trial court's order to stay the filing of the complaint filed by Appellee, Graham B. Spanier, until the completion of Spanier's criminal proceedings. Freeh Sporkin contends that the trial court erred in ordering the stay as it stripped them of their right to remove the case to federal court. Furthermore, Freeh Sporkin argues that we have jurisdiction to hear this appeal because the trial court's stay order " is a collateral order appealable under Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 313." Appellants' Brief, at 1.

We disagree with Freeh Sporkin and find that the trial court's order does not qualify as a collateral order and therefore, this Court lacks jurisdiction to review the trial court's order to stay the filing of the complaint. As such, we dismiss this case for lack of jurisdiction.

On July 12, 2012, Freeh Sporkin released a report (" the Report" ) detailing the actions of the Pennsylvania State University concerning the child abuse perpetrated by Gerald A. Sandusky. The Report stated that Dr. Spanier concealed critical facts about the Sandusky scandal from the authorities. Following publication of the Report, Spanier was criminally charged for endangering the welfare of children, perjury, obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy, and failure to report sexual assault. Presently, Spanier's criminal proceedings have not been scheduled for trial, but the trial is anticipated to take place within a year's time.

On July 11, 2013, Dr. Spanier filed a praecipe for a writ of summons to initiate a defamation action against Freeh Sporkin, and Pepper Hamilton, LLP. A writ was issued on the same day and later reissued by request of Plaintiff on August 2, 2013. An amended writ was subsequently issued, dropping Pepper Hamilton, LLP from the instant action.

Freeh Sporkin filed a praecipe to file complaint pursuant to Pa.R.Civ.P. 1037(a) and a Rule was issued by the prothonotary on the same day. Spanier then filed a

Page 345

motion to stay the civil proceedings, requesting a stay be granted in the above-mentioned action until the criminal charges against him were resolved. The trial court granted the stay on February 25, 2014, holding that the Spanier satisfied the six-factor balancing test set forth in In re Adelphia Communications Sec. Litig., 2003 WL ...


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