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.

Freundlich & Littman, LLC v. Feierstein

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 23, 2017

FREUNDLICH & LITTMAN, LLC AND GREGORY CREED LITTMAN, ESQUIRE, Appellants
v.
EDWARD T. FEIERSTEIN, BRUCE CHASAN AND LAW OFFICES OF BRUCE J. CHASAN, Appellees

          Appeal from the Order Entered October 8, 2015 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No(s): 150401569 April Term, 2015

          BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., MOULTON, J., and FITZGERALD, J. [*]

          OPINION

          BENDER, P.J.E.

         Appellants, Freundlich & Littman, LLC and Gregory Creed Littman, Esquire, appeal from the trial court's October 8, 2015 order sustaining Appellees', Edward T. Feierstein, Bruce Chasan and Law Offices of Bruce J. Chasan, preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer. After careful review, we vacate and remand.

         The trial court summarized the factual background and procedural history of this case as follows:

On June 25, 2013, [Appellants] Freund[l]ich & Littman, LLC and Gregory Creed Littman, Esq. … were hired to represent a client in a negligence suit against [Appellees] Bruce Chasan and Law Office of Bruce Chasan LLC's … client. [Appellees] filed a counterclaim in the suit against [Appellants]. [Appellants] allege that the counterclaim was completely meritless and procedurally improper. [Appellants] further allege that the counterclaim arose, not out of a genuine case strategy, but as retaliation for one of the [Appellants'] brother[']s testifying as a key witness in an unrelated criminal trial against [Appellee Feierstein]. [Appellants] claim that [Appellees'] litigation of the counterclaim in the case were attempts to bully and harass [Appellants] from dropping the negligence case and to intimidate [Appellant Littman's] brother into not testifying in the unrelated criminal matter. [Appellants] also cite two e-mails [Appellee Feierstein] sent that amounted to a litany of insults to both [Appellant Littman] and his brother.
In April 2014, the Honorable Alice Beck Dubow, then Judge of the Court of Common Pleas and now Judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, dismissed the counterclaim with prejudice and [Appellees] did not appeal.[1] In June 2014, the case proceeded to arbitration which, while contentious, resulted in a decision for [Appellants]. Although [Appellees] appealed the decision, the case eventually settled. However, through this time, [Appellants] allege that [Appellees'] behavior escalated, including several threatening and insulting e-mails.
In the instant case, [Appellants] are suing [Appellees] for the injuries incurred from the allegedly frivolous counterclaim, which they claim amounted to a wrongful use of proceedings and an abuse of process. On July 20, 2015, [Appellees] filed Preliminary Objections to [Appellants'] Complaint seeking, inter alia, a demurrer of the Complaint due to judicial immunity. On August 9, 2015, [Appellants] filed a response to [Appellees'] Preliminary Objections in opposition. On October 8, 2015, this [c]ourt entered an order granting [Appellees'] Preliminary Objections in the nature of a demurrer, based on the doctrine of judicial immunity. On October 15, 2015, [Appellants] filed a Motion for Reconsideration. On October 21, 2015, [Appellees] filed their response opposing [Appellants'] Motion for Reconsideration. On October 27, 2015, this [c]ourt denied [Appellants'] Motion for Reconsideration. On November 2, 2015, [Appellants] filed a Notice of Appeal. That same day, this Court issued a [Pa.R.A.P.] 1925(b) order. On November 12, 2015, [Appellants] responded with a Statement of Matters Complained on Appeal….

Trial Court Opinion (TCO), 1/12/2016, at 1-3.

         In sustaining Appellees' preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer and dismissing Appellants' claims for wrongful use of civil proceedings and abuse of process, the trial court relied exclusively on the doctrine of judicial privilege, also known as judicial immunity. It explained that, "[g]enerally, an attorney is entitled to absolute immunity for actions taken in the course of representing a client in judicial proceedings." TCO at 4 (citation omitted). As a result - despite acknowledging that communications made in the case were "often repugnant and completely inappropriate" - the trial court determined that the doctrine of judicial privilege barred litigation of Appellants' claims because "[a]ll the facts serving as the basis of [their] [c]omplaint were clearly filed as a matter of course for the judicial proceeding as they were counterclaims and other communications attempting to resolve the case." See TCO at 6-7.

         In their appeal to this Court, Appellants now raise the following two issues for our review:

1. Did the trial court err and abuse its discretion in holding that judicial privilege and/or judicial immunity shields an attorney from any civil liability in a[n] Abuse of Process, Misuse of Process and Wrongful Use of Processaction where the litigation is instituted both without probable cause and for a primary purpose other than securing the proper adjudication of a claim?
2. Did the trial court err and abuse its discretion holding that … Appellees['] actions of filing a Counterclaim against … Appellants was within the regular course of judicial proceedings when Appellees['] motives included witness intimidation in a separate criminal matter in Montgomery County?

Appellants' Brief at 8.

Initially, we set forth our standard of review:
[O]ur standard of review of an order of the trial court overruling or granting preliminary objections is to determine whether the trial court committed an error of law. When considering the appropriateness of a ruling on preliminary objections, the appellate court must apply the same standard as the trial court.
Preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. When considering preliminary objections, all material facts set forth in the challenged pleadings are admitted as true, as well as all inferences reasonably deducible therefrom. Preliminary objections which seek the dismissal of a cause of action should be sustained only in cases in which it is clear and free from doubt that the pleader will be unable to prove facts legally sufficient to establish the right to relief. If any ...

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.