Attorney to fight 'bizarre' ruling ordering new trial because judge retired

By Carrie Salls | Mar 16, 2017

HARRISBURG – To say attorney Anthony Pinnie is frustrated by a “bizarre” Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruling that vacated a judgment awarded to his client would be an understatement.  

On Feb. 17, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania vacated the judgment awarded in connection with damage allegedly done to Leo J. Dolan Jr.’s home as a result of faulty windows.


The matter was sent back to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in January because the Superior Court wanted more details on why the lower court ruled as it did and why it did not address counterclaims in its decision.


However, the Court of Common Pleas informed the Superior Court that the Judge James Proud, who heard the case, had retired and no one currently on the bench in the lower court could supplement the ruling.


“The notion that we’re remanded just because the judge retired is bizarre,” Pinnie, Dolan’s attorney, told the Pennsylvania Record. “It’s just not right.”


Dolan filed a complaint in September 2005 against Bentley Homes Ltd., Garvin Mitchell Corp., Chadwell Associates LP, Chadwell Realty Inc., Harrison Community Association and Hurd Millwork Co. Inc., alleging that the home he and then-wife Cheri M. Dolan purchased in 2000 “developed substantial defects including air and water leaks around the windows.”


Although the non-Hurd defendants attempted to fix some of the damage done to Dolan’s home, the problems got progressively worse. Ultimately, Dolan was forced to hire a civil engineer, with the total cost of repairs coming in at $826,695.99.


On June 18, 2015, the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County made a $500,000 judgment in Dolan’s favor. Because of the lack of information and the Court of Common Pleas’ inability to file a more detailed opinion, the Superior Court vacated the judgment and sent the case back to the lower court for a new trial.


“I’ve never heard of this in 32 years,” Pinnie said. “I’m just really disappointed.”


Based on the cut-and-dried facts presented in the Dolan case, Pinnie said he does not agree that the lower court ruling needed to be further explained.


“It made no sense because the trial record was more than enough,” Pinnie said. “There was a very, very clear record. The judge is a guy who’s been a judge for 30 years…he read the record.”


The next step, Pinnie said, is to appeal to the state Supreme Court the Superior Court’s decision to vacate the judgment and order a new trial. In fact, Pinnie said earlier that expected to file a petition for allocatur to the Supreme Court this week.


Pinnie said he hopes the Supreme Court will review the case and say “this just isn’t right.”


According to Pinnie, there are 23 other cases pending in connection with the defective windows that caused damage to Dolan’s home. He said some cases settled for “very, very small amounts.”


After footing the bills for the engineering assessment and subsequent repairs to his home, Pinnie said Dolan is still living in the home in question, but that value has been lost.

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Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Pennsylvania Supreme Court Superior Court of Pennsylvania

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