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Lichtman v. Glazer

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

March 11, 2015

Joan Lichtman, Appellant
v.
Gary Glazer; Joan Lichtman, Appellant
v.
Joseph Vignola; Joan Lichtman, Appellant
v.
R. Seth Williams

Submitted October 31, 2014.

Appealed from No. March Term, 2013, Nos. 03012, 03002 and 02985. Common Pleas Court of the County of Philadelphia. New, J.

Joan Lichtman, Pro se.

Martha Gale, Philadelphia, for appellee The Hon. Gary Glazer.

OPINION

Page 1226

PER CURIAM

Joan Lichtman (Appellant) appeals from three orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court) dated June 27, 2013, dismissing actions filed by Appellant for failure to state a cause of action pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. No. 240(j).[1] We affirm.

Appellant commenced actions against Appellees, the Honorable Gary Glazer, a judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Joseph Vignola, the City of Philadelphia Undersheriff, and R. Seth Williams, the City of Philadelphia District Attorney, by filing writs of summons on March 20, 2013. Appellant filed petitions to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) contemporaneously with her writs of summons.

By orders dated June 27, 2013, upon consideration of Appellant's IFP petitions, the trial court dismissed each case for failure to state a cause of action pursuant to Rule 240(j).[2] Appellant filed motions for reconsideration on July 5, 2013, upon which the trial court never ruled, and she filed the instant appeal on July 21, 2013.

On November 5, 2013, the trial court issued separate opinions in support of its orders. The trial court noted that, under Rule 240(j)(2), when a plaintiff commences an action by writ of summons and also files an IFP petition, a court shall not decide the IFP petition until a complaint is filed, but if a complaint is not filed within ninety days of filing the petition, the court may dismiss the action pursuant to subsection (j)(1). The trial court stated that a review of the docket entries on June 27, 2013, ninety-nine days after the writs of summons and the IFP petitions had been filed on March 20, 2013, showed that no complaints had been filed. Thus, the trial court stated that dismissal of the cases was consistent with Rule 240(j)(2).

Page 1227

Appellant appealed the trial court's orders to Superior Court, which transferred the matters to this Court by per curiam order.[3] On appeal,[4] Appellant argues that: (1) Superior Court abused its discretion when it issued an opinion on the merits when transferring the appeals to this Court; (2) the trial court erred or abused its discretion in interpreting and applying Rule 240(j), and, in doing so, violated Appellant's due process rights; and (3) the trial court erred or abused its discretion in refusing to render a decision on Appellant's motions for reconsideration.

Superior Court's Transfer Order

Appellant first argues that Superior Court abused its discretion in addressing the merits of these appeals in its order transferring the matters to this Court. In its ...


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