HARRISBURG — A “procedural misstep” thwarted the efforts of a tenant in his appeal of a ruling denying his request to vacate an arbitration award in a lawsuit filed against his landlord, according to an opinion entered April 28 by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
Specifically, the opinion said the appeal was related to a district court judgment in the lawsuit filed by James D. Schneller against Halfpenny Management Co. and Richard Carr. Carr owns the property that Schneller leased, and Halfpenny manages it.
On Feb. 28, 2013, Halfpenny notified Schneller in writing that he must leave the property he was renting from Carr. However, the Superior Court said Schneller “refused to relinquish possession of the demised premises,” even though the parties had a month-to-month lease that gave them “the right to terminate for any reason or no reason at all.”
Representing himself in the proceedings, the Superior Court said Schneller applied to proceed with his appeal “in forma pauperis,” meaning he was seeking a waiver of the customary costs associated with a lawsuit.
That application was denied in April 2013, and the appeal was dismissed in May of that year. However, it was subsequently reinstated, and the case went to arbitration.
After the Board of Arbitrators ruled in favor of Halfpenny in January 2014, the Superior Court said Schneller did not appeal the award. Instead, he filed a motion to strike or vacate the arbitration award nearly two years later, in October 2015.
Schneller’s motion to strike or vacate the award was denied on Jan. 15, 2016 by the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, and he appealed to the Superior Court, seeking permission to file an amended complaint that raised new evidence and claims.
The Superior Court, however, said its hands were tied because Schneller never actually appealed the arbitration award.
“The fact remains that Schneller’s failure to properly preserve the initial challenge to the award precludes our review of the issue,” the Superior Court order said.