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Boback v. Ross

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

April 14, 2015

CHRISTOPHER M. BOBACK
v.
JENNIFER O. ROSS AND DAVID A. ROSS; APPEAL OF: DAVID A. ROSS

 Argued, February 24, 2015

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, May 9, 2014, Civil Division No(s): AR 13-004860. Before O'REILLY, J.

Barbara J. Shah, Bethel Park, for appellant.

Christopher M. Boback, Esq., Pittsburgh, appellee, pro se.

BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., LAZARUS, J., and MUNDY, J.

OPINION

BENDER, P.J.E.

David A. Ross (" Garnishee" ) appeals from the May 9, 2014 order that states in pertinent part:

Execution on the Judgment against Garnishee David A. Ross shall be held in abeyance so long as the Judgment is paid to Plaintiff Christopher M. Boback at the rate of Four Hundred Dollars ($400.00) per month for twenty (20) consecutive months beginning as of the date of this Order by having Plaintiff Christopher M. Boback intervene as a

Page 1043

judgment-creditor in the case captioned as Jennifer O. Ross vs. David A. Ross, Docket No. FD-12-001508-011, PACSES Case No. 440113454 (Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) and by having Plaintiff Christopher M. Boback added as an alternate payee to the Order of Court dated January 24, 2014 ... so that he shall collect his Judgment in installments of $400.00 per month for 20 consecutive months from the payments collected and disbursed by the Pennsylvania State Collection and Disbursement Unit (" Pa SCDU" )."

Trial Court Order, 5/9/14, at ¶ 5. The trial court also directed that " the Department of Court Records shall assess the amount of the unliquidated Judgment filed against Garnishee David A. Ross on April 21, 2014, to be fixed in the amount of $8,000.00[.]" Id. at ¶ 4. After review, we reverse.

Garnishee and Jenifer O. Ross (" Wife" ) were formerly husband and wife and are the parents of three children. During a portion of the divorce litigation, namely, the child and spousal support proceedings, Christopher M. Boback (" Boback" ) represented Wife against Garnishee. On October 18, 2013, Boback withdrew from his representation of Wife due to unpaid fees. Wife retained new counsel and on January 21, 2014, Garnishee and Wife entered into consent orders relating to custody and support and signed a marital settlement agreement (MSA). Pursuant to the MSA, Garnishee was required to pay Wife alimony and child support through PACSES by way of a wage attachment on Garnishee's wages.

On October 22, 2013, Boback filed a civil complaint against Wife seeking the outstanding attorney's fees due him. A verdict was rendered in the amount of $7,483.80 for Boback and against Wife when she failed to appear at the scheduled hearing on February 18, 2014. Judgment was entered on March 17, 2014. Thereafter, Boback began execution proceedings, directing interrogatories to Garnishee, who in his answer acknowledged that he owed Wife monthly alimony and child support payments.[1] Based on this acknowledgment, on April 21, 2014, Boback filed a praecipe for judgment by admission against Garnishee in an unliquidated amount. Boback also filed a motion for a hearing to assess the amount of the judgment. On May 9, 2014, Garnishee moved to strike the judgment and for attorney's fees " on the grounds that it was inappropriate for the Department of Court Records to have entered judgment against [Garnishee] based on his answers to the interrogatories...." Garnishee's brief at 7.

Rather than holding a hearing on May 9, 2014, the trial court heard argument on Garnishee's motion to strike the judgment and on Boback's motion to fix the amount of the judgment. The court then entered the above-quoted order, essentially entering judgment in Boback's favor against Garnishee for $8,000.00, directing Boback's intervention in ...


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