Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Board of Supervisors of Willistown Township v. Main Line Gardens, Inc.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

February 22, 2017

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF WILLISTOWN TOWNSHIP, Appellee
v.
MAIN LINE GARDENS, INC. AND COFFMAN ASSOCIATES, LLC, Appellants BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF WILLISTOWN TOWNSHIP, Appellee
v.
MAIN LINE GARDENS, INC. AND COFFMAN ASSOCIATES, LLC, Appellants BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF WILLISTOWN TOWNSHIP, Appellee
v.
MAIN LINE GARDENS, INC. AND COFFMAN ASSOCIATES, LLC, Appellants BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF WILLISTOWN TOWNSHIP, Appellee
v.
MAIN LINE GARDENS, INC. AND COFFMAN ASSOCIATES, LLC, Appellants BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF WILLISTOWN TOWNSHIP, Appellee
v.
MAIN LINE GARDENS, INC. AND COFFMAN ASSOCIATES, LLC, Appellants BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF WILLISTOWN TOWNSHIP, Appellee
v.
MAIN LINE GARDENS, INC. AND COFFMAN ASSOCIATES, LLC, Appellants

          ARGUED: December 7, 2016

         Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1434 CD 2015 dated November 17, 2015, reconsideration denied December 17, 2015, Dismissing the appeal from the Order of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas at No. 2013-05045-CV dated May 7, 2015

         Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1456 CD 2015 dated November 17, 2015, reconsideration denied December 17, 2015, Dismissing the appeal from the Order of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas at No. 2013-05041-CV dated, April 22, 2015 and exited April 23, 2015

         Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1460 CD 2015 dated November 17, 2015, reconsideration denied December 17, 2015, Dismissing the appeal from the Order of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas at No. 2013-05037-CV December 23, 2014 and exited May 7, 2015

         Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1549 CD 2015 dated November 17, 2015, reconsideration denied December 17, 2015, Dismissing the appeal from the Order of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas at No. 2013-05042-CV dated April 22, 2015 and exited April 23, 2015

         Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1573 CD 2015 dated November 17, 2015, reconsideration denied December 17, 2015, Dismissing the appeal from the Order of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas at No. 2013-05043-CV dated April 22, 2015 and exited April 23, 2015

         Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1574 CD 2015 dated November 17, 2015, reconsideration denied December 17, 2015, Dismissing the appeal from the Order of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas at No. 2013-05044-CV dated April 22, 2015 and exited April 23, 2015

          SAYLOR, C.J., BAER, TODD, DONOHUE, DOUGHERTY, WECHT, MUNDY, JJ.

          OPINION

          DONOHUE, JUSTICE

         This appeal presents a discrete issue of post-trial procedure pursuant to Rule 227.1(b) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. Appellants, Main Line Gardens, Inc. and Coffman Associates, LLC (collectively, "Main Line"), ask us to decide whether it was proper for the Commonwealth Court to dismiss its appeal because it did not file briefs in the trial court in support of post-trial motions. We conclude that the Commonwealth Court erred, and thus remand the case for merits review of the issues raised on appeal.

         We begin with a review of the procedural history relevant to the issue presented here. In April 2011, Main Line received an enforcement notice from Appellee, the Board of Supervisors of Willistown Township (the "Township"), that asserted violations of the Township zoning ordinances. Main Line appealed the enforcement notice to the Township zoning hearing board, which, after hearings, determined that Main Line was in violation of the relevant zoning ordinances. To enforce the zoning board's determination, in August 2013 the Township filed seven complaints against Main Line with a magisterial district judge. Each of the seven complaints alleged violations during a distinct twelve-day period, together comprising violations over eighty-four days. The magisterial district judge entered judgments against Main Line in the amount of $6143 in each of the seven cases ($43, 001 in total).

         Main Line appealed these decisions to the court of common pleas, and in accordance with rules governing practice before magisterial district judges, the Township responded by filing seven complaints[1] asserting the same violations of the zoning ordinance over the same eighty four day period. Unlike the complaints before the magisterial district judge, however, in the court of common pleas, the Township's seven complaints were identical, all alleging zoning violations over a single, eighty four day period. The cases proceeded to arbitration, at the conclusion of which the arbitrator entered an award ($21, 274.67) in the Township's favor in one action (No. 2013-05036), and defense judgments in favor of Main Line in the other six cases.[2] The Township entered judgment on the arbitrator's award in the case docketed at 2013-05036 and filed notices of appeal in the other six cases.

         Prior to trial, Main Line filed motions for summary judgment in the six remaining actions. In supporting briefs filed in each case, Main Line argued that res judicata barred the Township from offering proof of damages because the arbitrator had rendered a decision on damages (in case No. 2013-05036) for the entire eighty four day period alleged in that case, and case No. 2013-05036 was a final judgment because the Township had not filed an appeal from that decision. In response, the Township filed motions for leave to amend its complaints in the six actions to set forth the distinct twelve-day time periods that had been delineated in the complaints filed before the magisterial district judge. Main Line filed briefs in response, arguing against amendment on res judicata grounds. The Township also filed cross-motions for summary judgment with supporting briefs in the six cases, offering its own res judicata argument, namely that the doctrine should bar Main Line from contesting the arbitrator's factual findings relating to its ordinance violations in case No. 2013-05036 because Main Line also had not filed an appeal from that decision. Main Line filed responses and supporting briefs to the Township's cross-motions for summary judgment, offering further argument with respect to the proper application of res judicata under the existing procedural posture of the six cases.

         The trial court denied all of the motions and cross-motions for summary judgment. At the start of trial, over Main Line's objections (on res judicata grounds), the court granted the Township's motions to amend its complaints.[3]See N.T., 11/3/2014, at 5. The trial court also acknowledged that Main Line had raised res judicata and collateral estoppel objections and the court provided the parties with an opportunity to argue those issues. See id. at 17, 86-87, 122-31. After trial, the trial court ruled in favor of the Township in all six actions, entering judgments of $15, 200 in each case. In a footnote to one of its orders, the trial court ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.