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No Appellate Review on Non-Final Order (PA)

January 11, 2018

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The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently quashed the appeal of the plaintiff in a Mechanics’ Lien dispute.  In <em><a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SCE-v-Spatt.pdf">SCE Environmental Group, Inc. v. Spatt</a>, </em>No. 283 MDA 2017 (Jan. 4, 2018), the plaintiff filed a Mechanics’ Lien of $371,424.79 against the defendants after a fire occurred at a property located in Jessup, Pennsylvania.  Plaintiff asserted that a master services agreement contracted for them to perform emergency response work to stabilize the property, as well as other tasks including disposal and removal of a tank on the property.  After allegedly completing the work, plaintiff sent defendants an invoice for $371,424.79.
Plaintiff contends that the defendants did not pay for any of the work performed and that plaintiff qualified as a contractor under the Mechanics’ Lien Law.  Accordingly, plaintiff submitted a mechanics’ lien in the same amount, asserting that, at the time the claim was filed, the defendants were the owners of the property to which the mechanics’ lien attached.  Defendants filed preliminary objections to strike plaintiff’s pleading for lack of specificity and on the basis of an agreement for alternative dispute resolution contained in the agreement.  After an oral argument, the trial court sustained defendants’ preliminary objections and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint <em>without prejudice</em> for failure to meet the requirements of the Mechanics’ Lien Law.  Plaintiff then filed a notice of appeal from the order sustaining defendants’ preliminary objections.
In reaching its decision to quash the appeal, the Superior Court explained the general rule that only appeals from final orders (i.e. an order that disposes of all claims and of all parties) are subject to appellate review.  The court further explained that, by virtue of dismissing plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice (as opposed to with prejudice), plaintiff was implicitly granted an opportunity to amend the complaint.  However, plaintiff did not file an amended complaint.  Furthermore, the issue at hand did not qualify for interlocutory review because it did not fall under any of the appropriate categories outlined in the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure.  Ultimately, the court concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over plaintiff’s appeal because there was no final order nor an appropriate interlocutory issue; therefore the appeal was quashed.
Thanks to Greg Herrold for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:BGibbons@wcmlaw.com">Brian Gibbons</a> with any questions.

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