Separate notices of Appeal at Each Trial Court Docket where Cases Consolidated

Always Busy Consulting, LLC v. Babford & Company, Inc., 2020 WL 2832923 (Pa. Super. 2019) (unreported), allocatur granted June 1, 2020, appeal docket 13 WAP 2020

In this case, the Supreme Court will revisit its 2018 decision in Commonwealth. v. Walker, in which it adopted the bright-line rule, to be applied prospectively, that “when a single order resolves issues arising on more than one lower court docket, separate notices of appeal must be filed” for each case and “failure to do so will result in quashal of the appeal.” 185 A.3d 969, 979 (Pa. 2018).

Here, after Always Busy Consulting, LLC lost its contractual payment dispute before an arbitrator, it filed in the trial court a petition to vacate or modify the award at docket no. GD-18-5205.  The prevailing party filed a petition in the trial court to confirm the arbitration award, at docket no. GD-18-5466.  The trial court granted the parties’ request to consolidate the two dockets, designating Always Busy’s docket number, GD-18-5205, as the lead docket at which filings were to be made. The trial court in a single order entered at both dockets denied Always Busy’s petition to vacate, and confirmed the arbitration award. Always Busy filed a notice of appeal that contained the captions of both dockets, but filed the notice of appeal only at docket number GD-18-5205, which the trial court had designated as the lead docket, and did not file a separate notice of appeal at the other docket.

The Superior Court “reluctantly” quashed the appeal based on its reading of the holding in Walker, reasoning:

Here, the trial court’s judgment resolved Appellant’s petition to vacate or modify the arbitration award filed at docket no. GD-18-5205, as well as Appellee’s petition to confirm arbitration award at docket no. GD-18-5466. Although the trial court consolidated the two cases generally, Appellant failed to file a notice of appeal at docket no. GD-18-5466. Because we are constrained by the strict holding of Walker, we reluctantly quash the appeal.

Slip Op. at 5.

The Supreme Court granted allocator to decide:

 Did the Superior Court err in quashing Petitioner’s appeal pursuant to Commonwealth v. Walker, 185 A.3d 969 (Pa. 2018), on the basis that Petitioner failed to file a notice of appeal at a separate docket number in a consolidated case, when Petitioner filed separate notices of appeal at the consolidated docket number, as directed and required by the trial court?

For more information, contact Kevin McKeon or Dennis Whitaker.