Sunday, February 26, 2017

civil procedure - post-trial motions - supporting brief not required - Pa. R.C.P. 227.1(b)(2)

Williston Township v. Main Line Gardens, Inc., et al. – Supreme Court of Pa. – February 22, 2017

Held:  Pa. R.C.P. 227.1(b)(2) concerning preservation of issues for appeal in a motion for post-trial relief does not require the moving party to file a supporting brief.

Post-trial motions serve an important function in the adjudicatory process because they provide the trial court with an opportunity to correct errors in its ruling and avert the need for appellate review. . . .In 1984, this Court adopted Rules 227.1 through 227.4 to establish uniform procedures for post-trial relief in actions at law and equity, and actions tried with or without a jury. . . .

Rule 227.1 addresses waiver at the trial court level, “as a matter of the trial court’s post-trial power.”  . . .Rule 227.1(b)5 establishes that issues not preserved either before or at trial, see Pa.R.C.P. 227.1(b)(1), or in post-trial motions, see Pa.R.C.P. 227.1(b)(2), are waived. As this Court ruled in Lane Enterprises, Inc. v. L.B. Foster Co., 710 A.2d 54 (Pa. 1998), Rule 227.1 “requires parties to file post-trial motions in order to preserve issues for appeal,” and “[i]f an issue has not been raised in a post-trial motion, it is waived for appeal purposes.” Id. at 54.

The Commonwealth Court erred in ruling that Main Line waived the issues set forth in its post-trial motions for failing to file briefs in support thereof. Main Line conformed with the dictates of Rule 227.1 to preserve its issues for appeal by filing post-trial trial motions that complied with Rule 227.1(b)(2). Main Line’s post-trial motions set forth the requested grounds for relief and the theories in support thereof. Importantly, Rule 227.1(b)(2) contains no requirement that parties file briefs or present argument with respect to the issues specified in the motion in order to preserve them for appeal.” [emphasis in original].


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