Pa. Superior Court affirms $96K-plus outstanding veterinary bill judgment for Univ. of Pa. New Bolton Center

By Jon Campisi | Apr 15, 2014

A three-judge state appellate court panel has affirmed a hefty judgment

against a man sued over an outstanding veterinary bill from the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court panel on April 14 affirmed a Chester County judge’s March 2013 decision to deny Harvey Bitler’s petition to strike and/or open judgment by default in his case against the Philadelphia veterinary center.

The case has its roots in a collection action filed by the center against Bitler back in the spring of 2011 stemming from $53,255.30 in veterinary bills the center says Bitler refused to pay for services plus $3,409.19 each month in service charges.

On Oct. 6, 2011, the trial court entered a default judgment against Bitler in the amount of $96,133.52, the record shows.

Bitler filed a petition to strike and/or open the judgment by default in June 2012, but the trial judge subsequently denied the request.

Bitler subsequently appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying relief.

One argument Bitler made on appeal was that the trial court was wrong to determine that he had waived appellate review of his claims by not filing a sufficient detailed concise statement of matters complained of on appeal.

Bitler maintained that his appeals statement was legally sufficient to preserve his claims for appellate review.

The trial judge had written that, “It is respectfully suggested that such a broad statement amounts to nothing more than a claim that the order appealed from was wrong and, as such, preserves no issue for review.”

The Superior Court panel agreed, concluding that Bitler waived his challenge to the trial judge’s denial of his petition to open the default judgment.

Bitler also claimed that the trial judge improperly denied his petition to strike the default judgment, asserting that the New Bolton Center failed to attach any evidence of its contractual relationship with him and that his delay “was not caused by blatant ignorance, but by a false sense of security created by virtue of the facts and nature of the action …”

The trial judge, in denying the petition, determined that Bitler hadn’t filed his motion within a reasonable time, the record shows.

The appeals panel agreed with this justification.

The non-precedential decision was written by Superior Court Judge John Musmanno.

The other participating judges were David N. Wecht and Kate Ford Elliot.

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