HARRISBURG – The state Supreme Court has affirmed a judgment of the Superior Court in a case that has spanned more than 25 years.
In an appeal filed by James Kravitz, a representative of Cherrydale Construction Co., the Supreme Court of was asked to determine if the lower court made a wrong judgment in denying a motion to recuse the judge presiding over the case in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County.
"We hold that the recusal issue was untimely presented to the trial court and, thus, waived. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court," stated the court's Sept. 28 opinion, written by Justice Max Baer.
According to the opinion, Kravitz was the lone director and shareholder of several companies, including Andorra Group, which included appellants Cherrydale Construction Co., Andorra Springs Development Inc. and Kravmar Inc., which was formally known as Eastern Development Enterprises Inc. He was also the part-owner of a reserve in Lafayette Hill.
In 1993, Andora Springs hired Cherrydale as a contractor to start construction on sections the Reserve, which was a project helmed by Andorra Springs. Eastern was brought on to handle the management and payroll for the Andorra Group.
The opinion states that appellee/plaintiff Roy Lomas Sr., is the proprietor of floor covering company Roy Lomas Carpet Contractor. In 1994, Cherrydale and Lomas entered into contract. The contract stated that Lomas was required to install and supply everything needed for the floor covering installation in the homes being built. Allegedly, Cherrydale soon breached the contract by not paying Lomas more than $30,000. In 1995, Lomas demanded his funds as lined by their contract.
Soon after an interim partial award in favor of Lomas, which found that Cherrydale did breach the contract. Kravitz tried to get the award dismissed but failed. The judgment was entered in 1998 in the Montgomery County court, the opinion states.
Since 1998, Lomas has had a hard time retrieving his arbitration award funds from Kravitz. Kravitz allegedly transferred all of his assets out of his Cherrydale company into his own private accounts, the opinion states. The duo soon went back to court resolve that issue. Over the next 20 years, both parties have gone back and forth to court over missing funds, contesting of each other’s legal teams and presiding judges, and arguing over evidence entered into trial.
In 2007, the appellants filed a recusal motion, which the appellees contested. The trial court originally moved that the motion was filed too late.
In a dissenting opinion filed by Chief Justice Thomas G. Sayor, he states that he believed the motion was not filed too late, stating it’s not written out how soon of a timeline a party has to file. He believed the case required a new trial and that Montgomery County Judge Thomas Branca was not qualified to rule over the case.
Ultimately the court concluded that it wasn’t necessary to pinpoint the exact moment that the appellants were required to present the recusal issue, but that Kravitz definitely had plenty of time before Oct. 15, 2007, to raise objections regarding that. The court states that all information underlying the issue was known to both parties as of September 2007.