CHARLES N. FINDER Appellant
TODD B. CRAWFORD AND JENNIFER L. CRAWFORD Appellee CHARLES N. FINDER
TODD B. CRAWFORD AND JENNIFER L. CRAWFORD Appellants
from the Order Entered March 15, 2016 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Montgomery County Civil Division at No(s):
BEFORE: PANELLA, J., LAZARUS, J., and STEVENS, P.J.E.
Charles N. Finder, appeals from the order that granted
summary judgment to Todd and Jennifer Crawford and dismissed
Finder's complaint asserting a claim of malicious
prosecution. After careful review, we agree with the trial
court's conclusion that Finder failed to create a factual
record capable of supporting his claim. We therefore affirm.
and the Crawfords were neighbors, whose suburban driveways
were separated by a thin strip of lawn. Unfortunately, they
did not enjoy this proximity, and the Crawfords filed several
complaints to the local police regarding Finder's
police never filed charges against Finder, but the Crawfords
ultimately filed a private criminal complaint asserting that
Finder was guilty of the summary offense of harassment. The
Montgomery County District Attorney's Office approved the
complaint, and it proceeded to trial before Magisterial
District Judge Karen Eisner Zucker.
the Crawfords were presenting their case, Judge Zucker
interrupted the proceedings and urged the parties to
"settle their differences … and get along as
neighbors." What happened next is disputed by the
parties and forms the crux of the trial court's decision
to grant summary judgment.
Crawfords, in their motion for summary judgment, asserted
that Judge Zucker presided over attempts to have the parties
settle their differences and resolve the litigation amicably.
In particular, the Crawfords asserted that at "the
conclusion of her compromise discussions with the parties
… Judge Zucker advised the Crawfords and
[Finder's] counsel that, in essence, a compromise had
been reached involving a conditional dismissal of the
harassment charge[.]" Motion for Summary Judgment, at
¶ 10(f). The dismissal was to be conditioned upon
Finder's behavior over the next month and a half.
contrast, Finder asserted "absolutely no conditional
compromise was reached." Answer to Motion for Summary
Judgment, at ¶ 10(f). However, he admitted that he had
"no total recollection of exactly what [Judge Zucker]
said[, ]" and that he had "no recollection of the
judge talking about an opportunity for the parties to settle
the matter[.]" Id., at ¶ 10(c), (e).
parties acknowledged that the trial was continued to a later
date. The Crawfords asserted that the continuance was
"an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal to which
[Finder] consented, [as well as] a conditional dismissal, and
a compromise between [Finder] and the Crawfords." Motion
for Summary Judgment, ¶ 10(i). Finder, for his part,
denied that there was "an adjournment in contemplation
parties agree that shortly before the date for the
rescheduled trial, the Crawfords requested that Judge Zucker
cancel the trial, as they had not had any issues with Finder
since the previous hearing. Judge Zucker subsequently
dismissed the Crawford's private criminal complaint.
Finder's counsel wrote to Judge Zucker, inquiring whether
it was necessary to file a motion for judgment of acquittal.
No judgment of acquittal was entered on the docket.
subsequently filed the instant suit, asserting multiple
claims against the Crawfords. After the Crawfords filed
preliminary objections, Finder amended his complaint and
asserted only a single claim premised upon malicious
Crawfords subsequently filed for summary judgment, asserting
that Finder had not provided evidence capable of supporting a
favorable verdict on his claim for malicious prosecution.
Finder filed a response to the motion, and attached a
"certification" that asserted several facts.
trial court granted the motion for summary judgment,
dismissed Finder's complaint, and denied the
Crawfords' request for attorney's fees. Both parties