Dear John Doe (PA)

Don’t forget about John Doe when appealing trial court orders holds Pennsylvania Superior Court.  In William Massaro v. Tincher Contracting, LLC, Kenneth E. Tincher II, & John Does 1-10, William Massaro (“Massaro”) sued Kenneth Tincher and his contracting company, Tincher Contracting, LLC (together, “Tincher”) for breach of contract, breach of implied warranties, and unfair trade practices relative to the build of Massaro’s home.  Tincher successfully moved for summary judgment on all counts at the close of discovery, and an order was entered dismissing Tincher, but not the John Doe defendants, from the case.  Massaro appealed the trial court’s order.

However, the Pennsylvania Superior Court quashed the appeal.  In reaching its conclusion, the Court held that Pennsylvania’s appellate courts have jurisdiction over only final orders.  It is established in the Commonwealth that final orders are those judgments that dispose of all claims and all parties.  If any claim remains unresolved even after a judgment, then the order is not final, and it cannot be appealed.  Here, the grant of summary judgment, the Court concluded, did not resolve the case as between Massaro and the John Doe defendants and, thus, was not final.

Thus, while John Doe defendants are easy to overlook, this case shows that they should not be whenever an attorney is assessing appellate court jurisdiction.

Thanks to Robert Turchick for his contribution to this post.  Please email Colleen Hayes with any questions.