Submitted: May 31, 2019
BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, President Judge
HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge HONORABLE
CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, Judge
HANNAH LEAVITT, President Judge
Jon McCormick (McCormick), pro se, appeals an order
of the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County (trial court)
that granted Dunkard Valley Joint Municipal Authority's
(Water Authority) petition to strike a default judgment
entered against it and to quash McCormick's local agency
appeal. At issue is how to effect service of a local agency
appeal under the Local Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S.
§§551-555, 751-754, and whether a default judgment
can be entered against a local agency that does not file a
response to an appeal of its decision. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm in part and vacate and remand in part.
owns a bed and breakfast named "The Captain's Watch
Inn" in Greensboro, Pennsylvania. The Water Authority
supplies water to the property. McCormick's account with
the Water Authority became delinquent and on October 20,
2017, the Water Authority issued a shut-off notice, which
McCormick disputed in a letter. The Water Authority treated
McCormick's letter as an appeal and appointed a Hearing
Officer to conduct a hearing on December 19, 2017.
hearing, McCormick asserted that in March of 2016 there had
been an accord and satisfaction of his obligation to the
Water Authority. Rejecting this assertion, the Hearing
Officer recommended that McCormick's appeal be denied and
that the Water Authority proceed with its collection of
McCormick's delinquent debt and shut off his water
service. On January 3, 2018, the Water Authority adopted the
Hearing Officer's decision as its own. The Water
Authority's counsel, Ernest P. DeHaas, III, sent a copy
of the Water Authority's decision to McCormick with a
letter stating as follows:
Enclosed is a copy of the Findings, Conclusions and Decision
which the [Water] Authority received from the hearing officer
today and has adopted. … Although you should make your
own determination regarding the time within which an appeal
must be taken to this decision, it is my understanding that
it would be within 30 days from the date of this letter.
Supplemental Reproduced Record at 39b (S.R.R.___).
January 19, 2018, McCormick appealed the Water
Authority's decision to the trial court. On January 29,
2018, the trial court entered an order noting that the record
did not reveal "service upon the [Water Authority]"
and stating that the "Court will take no further action
in this matter until [McCormick] is in compliance with Pa.
R.C.P. Nos. 400-430." Trial Court Order, 1/29/2018;
Reproduced Record at 4 (R.R.). In response, on February 1,
2018, McCormick filed a certificate of service with the trial
court stating that on January 20, 2018, he had mailed a true
and correct copy of his appeal to the Water Authority's
counsel, DeHaas, at 2 West Main Street, Uniontown,
Pennsylvania 15401, which was the address that appeared in
DeHaas's letter to McCormick enclosing the Water
9, 2018, McCormick filed a praecipe for default judgment
based on the Water Authority's failure to file a timely
responsive pleading to his appeal. The Greene County
Prothonotary entered a default judgment against the Water
Authority on the same day.
21, 2018, DeHaas entered his appearance on behalf of the
Water Authority that listed his address as 51 East South
Street, Uniontown, Pennsylvania 15401. The Water Authority
then filed a petition to strike the default judgment and to
quash McCormick's appeal. It also sought attorney fees.
The Water Authority asserted that McCormick's appeal was
governed by the Local Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S.
§§551-555, 751-754, and that a statutory appeal
must be served on the local agency by certified mail, return
receipt requested. It argued that McCormick did not properly
serve notice of his appeal upon the Water Authority.
Water Authority asserted that the default judgment should be
stricken because (1) McCormick had not properly served the
Water Authority with notice of his appeal; (2) the Water
Authority was not required under the Local Agency Law to file
a responsive pleading to the notice of appeal; and (3)
McCormick failed to notify the Water Authority of his
intention to file a praecipe for default judgment, as
required by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. The
Water Authority requested the trial court to quash
McCormick's appeal. It argued that although McCormick
filed a certificate of service in response to the trial
court's January 29, 2018, order, he did not serve a copy
of that certificate on the Water Authority or its counsel.
Lastly, the Water Authority requested payment of its attorney
fees because McCormick's conduct in the matter was
"obdurate and vexatious." Petition, 5/21/2018, at
4; Original Record (O.R.) Item No. 16. The trial court
scheduled oral argument on the Water Authority's petition
for July 11, 2018, and the parties submitted additional
October 10, 2018, the trial court granted the Water
Authority's petition to strike the default judgment and
motion to quash McCormick's appeal of the Water
Authority's decision of January 3, 2018. The trial court
denied the Water Authority's petition for attorney fees.
McCormick appealed to this Court.
appeal,  McCormick argues that the trial court
erred in striking the default judgment against the Water
Authority and in quashing his statutory appeal. In making
these assignments of error, McCormick argues that his
statutory appeal was a civil action governed by the
Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure; therefore, a default