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Morrison Informatics, Inc. v. Members 1st Fed. Credit Union

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

August 12, 2014

MORRISON INFORMATICS, INC., ANTHONY M. GRIGONIS, AND MALCOLM H. MORRISON, Appellants
v.
MEMBERS 1ST FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, MARK ZAMPELLI, AND SCOTT DOUGLASS, Appellees

Page 1234

Appeal from the Order entered February 20, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, Civil Division at No(s): 2011-04636. Before MASLAND, J.

Darryl J. Liguori, Harrisburg, for appellants.

Ellen H. Kueny, Philadelphia, for Members 1st, appellee.

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E, OLSON, and STRASSBURGER,[*] JJ. OPINION BY STRASSBURGER, J.

OPINION

Page 1235

STRASSBURGER, J.:

Appellants Morrison Informatics, Inc. Anthony M. Grigonis, and Malcolm H. Morrison (Plaintiffs, collectively) appeal from the February 20, 2013 order sustaining the preliminary objections of Members 1st Credit Union and dismissing Plaintiffs' amended complaint. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

The trial court summarized the history of this case as follows.

I. Introduction
[Plaintiffs] filed a complaint on May 7, 2012 arising from the embezzlement of funds by Defendant Mark Zampelli (Zampelli). On June 19, 2012, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. In the amended complaint, Plaintiffs allege conversion and fraud against Zampelli, negligence and fraud against Scott Douglass (Douglass), civil conspiracy against Zampelli and Douglass, and respondeat superior, negligence, negligent supervision

Page 1236

and breach of contract against Members 1st Federal Credit Union (Members 1st). On June 19, 2012, Plaintiffs also filed a motion to amend caption to add Leon P. Haller, Chapter 7 Trustee for Morrison Informatics[,] as a Plaintiff in the action.
Members 1st filed timely preliminary objections to both Plaintiffs' original complaint and Plaintiffs' amended complaint. Defendant's objections to Plaintiffs' amended complaint are as follows: 1) Plaintiffs failed to conform to Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure because they filed an amended complaint without leave of court or consent of the adverse party; 2) Plaintiffs Morrison and Grigonis lack standing as shareholders and owners of Morrison Informatics because all injuries they suffered were indirect injuries suffered through the corporation Morrison Informatics; 3) Morrison Informatics lacks standing because it filed for bankruptcy prior to initiating this action; ... 5) the complaint cannot be amended to add a new party such as Leon P. Haller when the statute of limitations has expired on the causes of action[.] ...

II. Facts

Morrison Informatics is a Pennsylvania corporation. Grigonis and Morrison are shareholders of Morrison Informatics. Morrison Informatics employed [] Zampelli as a Finance Manager. [] Douglass was a business banker at PNC Bank and was responsible for Morrison Informatics' accounts.
In January 2005, Douglass became employed by Members 1st as a business loan officer. At some point following Douglass's transfer to Members 1st, Zampelli initiated and finalized a transfer of Morrison Informatics' banking relationship to Members 1st. Douglass served as the relationship manager between Members 1st and Morrison Informatics during this time, aiding Morrison Informatics with opening a business checking account and a business line of credit, and with obtaining a Visa business credit card.
Zampelli was at no time authorized as a signer on Morrison Informatics' accounts or as a user of the Visa credit card. However, Zampelli opened a business savings account in the name of Morrison Informatics and listed himself as the sole authorized signer without the permission of Morrison Informatics.
During this time, Zampelli and Douglass engaged in " on-going, and substantial sports betting activities...." Zampelli supported his gambling by taking money from Morrison Informatics by utilizing Morrison Informatics' banking relationship with Members 1st without authority. Specifically, Zampelli obtained unauthorized cash withdrawals from checks payable to Morrison Informatics, cashed checks payable to Morrison Informatics by third parties and himself, made unauthorized cash withdrawals from Morrison Informatics' business checking account, and made unauthorized purchases with Morrison Informatics' Visa business credit card.
Plaintiffs became aware of Zampelli's conduct on June 9, 2009. On September 17, 2009, Morrison Informatics filed a Voluntary Petition under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. On September 22, 2009, Leon P. Haller was assigned as the Chapter 7 Trustee for Morrison Informatics. This action was initiated by a Praecipe for [w]rit of [s]ummons that was filed on May 27,

Page 1237

2011. The original [c]omplaint in this action was filed on May 7, 2012, to which Members 1st filed [p]reliminary [o]bjections on May 25, 2012.
On June 11, 2012, [] Douglass filed a Suggestion of Bankruptcy to stay the action as to Defendant Douglass pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362.[1] On June 19, 2012, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint and a Motion to Amend Caption to add Leon P. Haller, Trustee as Plaintiff. The [a]mended [c]omplaint added a count for implied breach of contract. On July 5, 2012, Defendant, Members 1st, filed [p]reliminary [o]bjections to Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint.

Trial Court Opinion, 2/20/2013, at 1-4 (citations omitted).

The trial court sustained the preliminary objections and dismissed Plaintiffs' amended complaint by order of February 20, 2013. Plaintiffs timely filed a notice of appeal. Both Plaintiffs and the trial court have complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.

Plaintiffs raise the following questions on appeal, which we have renumbered for ease of disposition.

[I]. Whether the trial court erred in ordering that Anthony M. Grigonis and Malcom H. Morrison do not have standing in ...

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