Landlord Appeals Lawyer
Mark D. Copoulos has experience appealing wrongly-decided outcomes in Municipal Court. Some Municipal Court judges have less experience than Common Pleas judges. They may have too many cases on their docket and rush to an unfair result at the end of a long day. You have a right to vacate or clear any judgment entered by a Municipal Court judge through appeal to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Often times, it makes sense for a landlord to refile in Municipal Court rather than appeal a wrongly decided outcome. For example, if a landlord loses an eviction action he can appeal or refile. If landlord refiles he may have a court date in Municipal Court in two to three weeks. However, if the landlord opts to appeal the case his matter may not be listed for trial for two months. Therefore, an appeal should only be taken where there is a consideration other than prompt eviction of Tenant. For example, if Tenant owes over $12,000.00 in monetary damages and has means of making payment an appeal would be worthwhile. Alternatively, an appeal may make sense where the landlord is being sued in a security deposit case. Under such circumstances, if the landlord lost the decision the appeal would vacate the judgment against him. The tenant would then have to spend several thousand dollars fighting a security deposit case in the Court of Common Pleas. Under such circumstances, the landlord may win simply by virtue of taking the appeal.
A landlord or tenant may vacate or clear a Municipal Court judgment by filing an appeal. In order to appeal an decision concerning possession of property, the landlord or tenant must appeal within ten (10) days of the judgment. If the appeal is concerning monetary judgment only then the party has thirty (30) days to appeal. The appeal process begins by notifying the prothonotary of the parties intention to appeal. This is accomplished by filing a Notice of Appeal. If the landlord was the defendant in the underlying action, he must include a Rule to File Complaint in his Notice of Appeal package. If the landlord was the Plaintiff then he can initiate the action with a Notice of Appeal. A copy of the court order that is being appealed must be attached along with the Notice of Appeal. The appeal has the effect of vacating the underlying order. The Notice of Appeal must be hand-served on the opposing party within thirty (30) days of taking the appeal. If the appellant fails to serve the Notice then the appeal may be dismissed pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 401 and Phila Civ. R. *1001(d). Proof of service must be uploaded to the Philadelphia Court Docket by a process server. If the appellant fails to effectuate service their appeal may be subject to an irrevocable dismissal. After service is properly effectuated, the Plaintiff must file a complaint. Unlike in Municipal Court cases, the complaint must be adherent to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. According to Pa. R.C.P. 1019 the complaint must lay out “the material facts on which a cause of action is based in concise and summary form.” It is important to raise any and all legal argument in the complaint, as and issues not raised may be deemed waived at trial. The complaint must state with particularity the legal issues upon which the cause of action is based. According to Pa. R.C.P. (a) “The plaintiff may state in the complaint more than one cause of action cognizable in a civil action against the same defendant. Each cause of action and any special damage related thereto shall be stated in a separate count containing a demand for relief.” For example, in a landlord-tenant case a Landlord may sue tenant for nonpayment of rent. The claim may be brought as a breach of contract lawsuit (the lease), and an unjust enrichment theory (tenant enjoying the property without paying rent). Both legal theories should be pled in the complaint under different causes of action.