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Substance of Pro Se Petition Rejected by Appellate Court (PA)

November 14, 2018

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On November 02, 2018, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a judgment entered in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas denying a petition to vacate an arbitration award in <em><a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Jenn-Ching-Luo-v.-Lowe27s-Home-Centers-LLC.pdf">Jenn-Ching Luo v. Lowes Home Centers LLC</a></em>  The case arises out of a minor construction project gone wrong which resulted in property damage.  Jenn-Ching Luo (“Luo”) contracted with Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC (“Lowe’s”) to install a new residential roof, skylights and gutters.  Lowe’s hired Kolb Roofing Company to perform the installation, however, Luo claimed the installation did not protect against a brief rainstorm which caused damage.  Attempting to rectify the problem, Lowe’s hired Charles S. Ernst to evaluate the property damage, but Luo didn’t agree with his assessment.

Luo then proceeded to file suit in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.  However, the original installation contract contained an arbitration provision and thus the case proceeded to arbitration.  The arbitrator found in favor of Luo and against Lowe’s and Walters in the amount of $2,034.07.  Luo was unsatisfied with this award and filed a petition pro se to vacate the award.  In doing so, Luo raised an astonishing 23 issues in her appellate brief.

In dismissing the appeal, the court cited a litany of errors and violations of the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure.  Luo had failed to cite to any relevant legal authority, failed to divide her brief “into as many parts as there are questions to be argued,” failed to cite to the record and made a number of other errors not referenced in the opinion.  This case, while extreme, highlights the importance understanding jurisdiction-specific procedural rules and strictly adhering to them.  Failing to do so can have grave consequences including the potential for the dismissal of your case.

As anyone who does appellate work, civil or criminal, will tell you, a skilled adversary presents a challenge.  But a pro se adversary presents a more time-consuming challenge, because the attorney has to address all arguments, even nonsensical ones.  Here, Lowe's had to oppose a 23 point appeal, on a $2,000 arbitration award.   "Judicial economy" usually takes a backseat when pro se litigants are involved.  Thanks to Garrett Gitler for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:BGibbons@wcmlaw.com">Brian Gibbons</a> with any questions.

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