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PIB Law Obtains Favorable Ruling from Pennsylvania Superior Court Affirming Summary Judgment Motion in Mortgage Foreclosure Action

On May 2, 2019, in JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association v. Sean Gallagher and Hairong Wang (Docket No. 169 EDA 2018), the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County that granted Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and also affirmed two other trial court orders.

The appeal was filed by Defendants/Appellants Sean Gallagher and Hairong Wang (“Defendants”) who appealed the trial court’s December 6, 2017 entry of summary judgment against Defendants, as well as the trial court’s December 18, 2015 Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants’ Petition for Leave to File an Amended Answer, New Matter, and Counterclaims and the April 4, 2016 Order sustaining Plaintiff’s Preliminary Objections to Defendants’ Amended Complaint.

The trial court found the December 18, 2015 and April 6, 2016 Orders were interlocutory, but noted those Orders became appealable upon the entry of the final order granting summary judgment. The Superior Court found that Defendants lacked an automatic right to amendment of their pleadings and were required to comply with the applicable rules of civil procedure regarding foreclosure actions. In concluding that Defendants waived their argument on this issue, the Superior Court found Defendants provided “only vague and generalized argument in support of their position,” failing to identify any matter prohibited by the trial court and failed to cite to any relevant legal authority in support of their position.

Defendants also failed to cite to any legal authority for their position regarding the April 4, 2016 Order sustaining the Preliminary Objections. The Superior Court found that Defendants’ deliberate failure to adhere to the trial court’s explicit directive and failure to adhere to the applicable rules of civil procedure did not allow for the conclusion that the trial court erred in sustaining the Preliminary Objections.

In affirming the entry of summary judgment, the Superior Court confirmed settled law regarding the summary judgment standard. The Superior Court found that summary judgment was based, in part, on Defendants’ admissions and general denials to the averments of the Complaint with Defendants failing to provide specific denials to the averments of the Complaint. The Superior Court’s analysis cited each admission made by Defendants, finding Defendants possessed sufficient knowledge to specifically admit or deny the averments of the Complaint and that the failure to do so constituted admissions. Appellants were required to offer evidence controverting Plaintiff’s evidence, but failed to do so.  

The Superior Court briefly reviewed Defendants’ remaining claims, holding that the affidavit attached to the Motion for Summary Judgment complied with the Rules of Civil Procedure and was admissible and found no basis for appeal in Defendants’ claim that discovery had not been completed, finding Defendants failed to preserve any discovery challenge for appeal stating “Appellants fail to identify any particular discovery request directed to Bank, nor an allegedly deficient response thereto.”  

The Superior Court concluded that trial court did not commit any error of law or abuse its discretion in entering any of the three Orders.

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