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U.S. Bank Trust Nat’l Assoc. v. Unknown Heirs

Pennsylvania Superior Court

June 8, 2022

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the Court of Common Pleas order that denied the plaintiffs’ motion to strike its earlier praecipe to discontinue the action. The Superior Court noted the “prolonged litigation” and that “plaintiffs in this case ha[ve] created a procedural morass that is entirely of their own making.” But the issue dealt with whether a party may seek to discontinue — and essentially vacate — a judgment entered after summary judgment was granted via praecipe. The Court found “no basis in Pennsylvania law for the proposition that a plaintiff may sua sponte discharge a final judgment by utilizing a praecipe to discontinue.” Instead, “a judgment is not a unilateral right held by the winning party, but a determination under the control of the court.” As such, it may not be entered via praecipe filed well after the litigation became final. The Court found fault in the lower court’s order to discontinue entered as a result of the praecipe because that filing was not the correct mechanism to revisit the judgment. Thus, the Court reversed, notwithstanding its choice words for the plaintiffs’ dilatory tactics.

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