Jones v. McGreevy

The Pennsylvania Superior Court dove deep into the creditor-debtor practice and post-trial civil procedure in this 41-page opus. The case started when a contract for the sale of two vintage shotguns fell through. The seller sought to garnish the buyer’s bank accounts to recover the money he was owed. A bench trial was held on the issue of whether the buyer’s assets in one blank garnishee’s custody were exempt and immune from execution. The trial court ruled that the funds in the buyer’s account were immune and exempt from attachment, levy, and execution. Post-verdict motions were filed but never ruled on. The seller had assigned his rights to another party, and the buyer passed away; thus, the original parties to the contract were no longer part of the suit. Nonetheless, the case continued with the assignee as plaintiff and the buyer’s administratrix as the defendant. The plaintiff filed a praecipe for entry of judgment on the verdict pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 227.4(1)(b), as more than 120 days had passed since filing his request for post-trial relief and the trial court had not yet disposed of the motion. Judgment was entered immediately after that, and the plaintiff filed an appeal. Meanwhile, the plaintiff filed suit in another county claiming that the defendant attempted to harbor assets and/or funds from the reach of creditors, in violation of the Pennsylvania Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (PUVTA), 12 Pa.C.S. ยงยง 5101-5114. That suit named the now-deceased buyer as the defendant. The trial court granted preliminary objections, ruling the court was without subject matter jurisdiction. Again, the plaintiff appealed, leaving the Superior Court to consolidate and resolve the two matters. The Court held that the plaintiff-appellant properly exercised his right under Rule 227.4(1)(b) to praecipe the trial court for the entry of a final judgment and that the appeal was thus timely. As to the substantive arguments, the Superior Court disagreed with both trial courts, ruling that the buyer-debtor’s assets were not immune and exempt from attachment, levy, and execution. And as to the second action under the PUVTA, the Superior Court remanded for the opportunity to substitute the appearance of a personal representative for the defendant, as that matter had proceeded in the name of the buyer, who was now deceased.

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