OBTAINING A CONFESSED JUDGMENT FOR MONEY IN PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania's Expedited Judgment Procedure

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Abstract

A lender’s insertion of a warrant of attorney in a commercial note or guaranty will allow the lender to obtain a confessed judgment on that note or guaranty in a Pennsylvania court of common pleas

OBTAINING A CONFESSED JUDGMENT FOR MONEY IN PENNSYLVANIA

Introduction

    A confessed judgment for money, sometimes referred to as a “cognovit judgment,” is authorized by statute or rule in several states, including, among others, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. 
    The confessed judgment procedure allows a lender to obtain a judgment against a borrower or guarantor, when the underlying obligation has matured or is in default, without prior notice to the borrower or guarantor.  The frequency of confessed judgments varies among the states that allow the procedure, depending on whether the judgment by confession procedure is simple or complex, whether financial institutions in the state include confession of judgment language in their standard loan documents, and whether borrowers in the state have leverage to eliminate confession of judgment language from the loan documents before the closing of the loan.
    The entry of a confessed judgment against a borrower or a guarantor is a harsh remedy.  As one court stated:
“A warrant of attorney authorizing judgment is perhaps the most powerful and drastic document known to civil law ….  The signing of a warrant of attorney is equivalent to a warrior of old entering a [sic] combat by discarding his shield and breaking his sword.  For that reason the law jealously insists on proof that this helplessness and impoverishment was voluntarily accepted and consciously assumed.”[1]

    This article will discuss the procedure to obtain a confessed judgment in a Pennsylvania state court, based on a promissory note or a guaranty containing a warrant of attorney.[2]  Use of feminine, masculine, or neutral pronouns in this article is not meant to be exclusive, and the use of any one or more of those pronouns includes all of the pronouns, unless the context requires otherwise. 


The Warrant of Attorney

    The language that operates as a confession of judgment in an instrument is called the “warrant of attorney.” In Pennsylvania, an instrument containing a warrant of attorney is enforceable, unless the instrument was executed in connection with a “consumer credit transaction.”   A “consumer credit transaction” is “a credit transaction in which the party to whom credit is offered or extended is a natural person and the money, property or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family or household purposes.”[3]

    In a warrant of attorney, the borrower or guarantor (the “debtor”) authorizes the lender, through the lender’s attorney or an authorized agent, to confess a judgment against the debtor through the filing of a complaint in a Pennsylvania common pleas court. Unlike in Ohio, where a cognovit instrument must contain the exact words of a warning mandated by statute, in Pennsylvania, no statute or rule requires any specific language to be included in the warrant of attorney. 

    To be enforceable, the warrant of attorney need not be conspicuous or of a different typeface or font than the remainder of the instrument.[4]  Certainly, however, if the warrant of attorney is conspicuous, the more likely it is that the court will find that the debtor voluntarily accepted that the lender could take a judgment by confession. Most important, for enforceability purposes, is that the warrant of attorney makes the debtor conscious that a judgment by confession may be taken against the debtor upon the occurrence of the maturity of the underlying loan or a default on the instrument containing the warrant of attorney, and that the person signing the warrant of attorney, either individually or on behalf of an entity, is “reasonably sophisticated and that the debtor voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently gave up its right to notice and a hearing before the entry of the judgment.”[5]

    The following language is a suggested warrant of attorney provision for a promissory note in favor of an institutional lender:

CONFESSION OF JUDGMENTBorrower hereby irrevocably authorizes Lender, through any attorney (which attorney may be an attorney associated with Lender’s counsel, each party hereby waiving any conflict of interest), or any other person authorized by Lender, at any time or times, to appear in any state or federal court of record in the United States of America, after all, or any part, of the obligations evidenced by this Instrument have become due, whether by lapse of time, acceleration, or otherwise, and in each case to waive the issuance and service of process, to file a complaint and present to the court this Instrument or a copy thereof and, in Lender’s discretion, any other writing evidencing the obligation or obligations in question, to admit the due date and the non-payment of this Instrument, to confess judgment against Borrower in favor of Lender for the full amount then appearing due, together with interest and costs of suit, including attorneys’ fees, and to release all errors and waive all rights of appeal and any stay of execution of the judgment.  The attorney or other authorized person confessing judgment in favor of Lender will be entitled to a reasonable fee, which may be paid by Lender and for which Borrower must indemnify Lender. The foregoing warrant of attorney will survive any judgment, it being understood that if any judgment against Borrower is vacated, stricken off, or opened for any reason, Lender may nevertheless utilize the foregoing warrant of attorney in thereafter obtaining one or more additional judgments against Borrower.  Borrower acknowledges and agrees that Borrower is voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently giving up its right to notice and hearing prior to the entry of judgment, is granting Lender the right to confess judgment against Borrower, and is freely waiving Borrower’s due process rights.[6] 

    As a further precaution, a lender should consider requiring the debtor to initial or separately sign the warrant of attorney.


Action to Obtain a Confessed Judgment

    Before December 29, 2008, if the warrant of attorney provided that the lender or other creditor, through its attorney or another agent, could obtain a confessed judgment without filing a complaint, then, unless certain circumstances were present, the attorney or other agent could obtain the judgment from the prothonotary directly or by filing an action in the court of common pleas.  When seeking a confessed judgment directly from the prothonotary, the lender was required to present the following documents to the prothonotary: 
 
(1)               the original of the instrument containing the warrant of attorney; and

(2)               an affidavit that the judgment is not being entered by confession against a natural person in connection with a consumer credit transaction.[7]

 
    Apparently because non-attorneys misused the process of obtaining a confessed judgment from the prothonotary, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, by an Order dated December 29, 2008, and effective immediately, directed all persons seeking a judgment by confession for money to institute an action by filing a complaint, to be adjudicated by the common pleas court.[8]  In the Pennsylvania state court system, only the court of common pleas may enter a judgment by confession.[9]
 

    The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure prescribe the form of the complaint to obtain a confessed judgment.[10]  The complaint must include:

(1)               the name and last known address of each party,  

(2)               the original or a copy of the instrument containing the warrant of attorney,[11]

(3)               an averment that judgment is not being entered by confession against a natural person in connection with a consumer credit transaction,  

(4)               a statement that the instrument has been assigned, if applicable,  

(5)               either a statement that judgment has not been entered on the instrument in any jurisdiction or, if it has been entered, an identification of the proceedings, 

(6)               if the confessed judgment may be entered only after a default or the occurrence of a condition precedent, a statement that the default, or the condition precedent, as applicable, has occurred; 

(7)               an itemized computation of the amount then due, based on matters outside the instrument, if necessary, which may include interest and attorney fees if authorized by the warrant of attorney, 

(8)               a demand for judgment as authorized by the warrant of attorney, 

(9)               if the instrument is more than twenty years old, or if the original or a copy of the instrument showing the defendant’s signature is not attached to the complaint, an application for a court order granting leave to enter a confessed judgment after notice to the debtor, and 

(10)           signature and verification in accordance with the rules relating to a civil action.[12]

 
    In addition, the complaint must include the following language, or language substantially similar: “Pursuant to the authority contained in the warrant of attorney, the original or a copy of which is attached to the complaint in this action, I appear for the defendant(s) and confess judgment in favor of the plaintiff(s) and against defendant(s) as follows …”[13]  The averments in a complaint for confession of judgment cannot provide the lender, who is the plaintiff in the complaint, with any relief not authorized by the specific language of the warrant of attorney.[14]
 

    In addition to filing the complaint and the warrant of attorney instrument, as described above, at least one court has held that the plaintiff must also file a notice directed to the defendant (the party that executed the instrument containing the warrant of attorney), describing the process of filing a motion to strike off a judgment by confession.[15]  As discussed below under “Personal Property Execution Notice,” the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure do require that, when a plaintiff serves a Personal Property Execution Notice on the defendant and the sheriff has been issued a writ of execution in response to that Notice, the defendant must be served with a form petition to strike off the confessed judgment.

    As explained below, in some circumstances, after the entry of a confessed judgment, the court may “strike off” the judgment if the record contains a fatal defect or irregularity, or, in other circumstances, the court may “strike off” the judgment if the defendant did not voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waive the right to notice and a hearing prior to the entry of the confessed judgment. 

    Any lender intending to file a complaint for a money judgment by confession should read the local rules of the court where the complaint will be filed. The local rules may require the lender to file documents in addition to those required by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.  For example, the local rules of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas provide that any person seeking a judgment by confession must attach to the complaint an affidavit certifying that the defendant is not in the military service, in compliance with the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.[16]

    After the common pleas court judge signs the confessed judgment entry, the prothonotary must immediately give written notice of the judgment (the “Judgment Notice”) to each defendant by ordinary U.S. Mail, and furnish each defendant with a copy of the complaint and all other documents filed with the complaint.  The Judgment Notice is prepared by the plaintiff and submitted to the prothonotary with the complaint for the confessed judgment.  The prothonotary may serve the Judgment Notice by facsimile transmission or other electronic means to any defendant, or to any attorney for a defendant, who (1) filed a written request for that method of notification, or (2) included a facsimile or other electronic address on a prior legal paper filed in the confession of judgment case.[17] 

    The judgment entry will operate as a lien against the defendant’s real property in the county where the confessed judgment was taken. The plaintiff can also obtain a lien on the defendant’s real property in other Pennsylvania counties by filing the judgment entry with the prothonotary of the county.[18]


Notice of Execution on a Confessed Judgment

    The plaintiff may seek execution on a confessed judgment through the prothonotary’s issuance of a writ of execution to the sheriff.  Before a sheriff can dispose of the defendant’s property under a writ of execution, the defendant must be served with one of three types of execution notices, depending on the type of property for which the plaintiff seeks a writ of execution.  This article refers to those notices as a “General Execution Notice,” a “Real Property Execution Notice,” and a “Personal Property Execution Notice.”

    If the plaintiff intends to have a sheriff execute on property in a Pennsylvania county other than the county where the plaintiff obtained the judgment, the plaintiff must file a certified copy of all docket entries in the case with the prothonotary of the other county,[19] and begin the execution process in that county.


General Execution Notice

    If the plaintiff has served a General Execution Notice on the Defendant, then, unless the defendant has filed a petition to strike off or open the confessed judgment, the plaintiff can file a praecipe (request) for a general writ of execution on or after the thirtieth day following plaintiff’s service of the General Execution Notice on the defendant.[20]  Under a general writ of execution, the sheriff can execute upon the defendant’s real and/or personal property.  The form of the General Execution Notice is set forth in Rule 2964 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. 

    The General Execution Notice notifies the defendant that a confessed judgment has been taken against the defendant, identifying the plaintiff in the caption of the Notice, and that the sheriff may take the defendant’s money or other property to pay the judgment at any time after thirty (30) days after the date on which the General Execution Notice was served on the defendant.  The General Execution Notice also states that the defendant may lose his or her rights unless the defendant files a petition for relief from the confessed judgment within thirty days after the General Execution Notice was served on the defendant.

    The General Execution Notice also recommends that the defendant take the Notice to a lawyer, and states that the office of the plaintiff’s attorney may be able to provide the defendant with information about agencies that may offer legal services to eligible persons at a reduced fee or no fee.

    If the defendant did not enter an appearance in the confession of judgment action, the General Execution Notice can be served by the sheriff or a process server, by the plaintiff through any form of U.S. Mail providing a receipt of delivery, or through the method specified in a special court order (if the General Execution Notice cannot be served by the sheriff or a process server, or by the plaintiff by U.S. mail).[21]  If the defendant entered an appearance in the confession of judgment action, any General Execution Notice must be served in the manner for documents other than original process.[22] 
 
    As stated above, the plaintiff can file a praecipe (request) for a general writ of execution on or after the thirtieth day following service of the General Execution Notice upon the defendant.  When the sheriff receives the writ of execution from the prothonotary, the sheriff can then execute on the defendant’s property.  If the sheriff is executing against the defendant’s real property under a General Execution Notice, a real property sale notice must also be served in accordance with the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure (see below).
 


Real Property Execution Notice

    If the plaintiff has not served a General Execution Notice on the defendant, and the plaintiff desires execution only against the defendant’s real property, or against the defendant’s real property and personal property encumbered by the same security instrument, the plaintiff must serve a Real Property Execution Notice with the mandatory real property sale notice, at least thirty days before any sheriff’s sale of the property.[23]  The form of a Real Property Execution Notice is set forth in Rule 2965 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

    The Real Property Execution Notice notifies the defendant that a confessed judgment has been taken against the defendant, identifying the plaintiff in the caption of the Notice, and that the court has issued a writ of execution that directs the sheriff to levy upon certain real property, owned by the defendant, to pay the judgment.  The Real Property Execution Notice also notifies the defendant of the date of the sheriff’s sale of the real property, and informs the defendant that he or she may have legal rights to defeat the judgment or to delay or prevent the sheriff’s sale. 

    The Real Property Execution Notice then warns the defendant that he or she may lose rights unless a petition for relief is filed with the court before the sheriff’s sale.  Somewhat confusingly, the Real Property Execution Notice then states that the defendant will lose rights unless a petition seeking relief from the confessed judgment is filed within thirty days after the date on which the Real Property Execution Notice was served on the defendant.  Based on the foregoing language, it appears that the defendant should file a petition for relief no later than the earlier to occur of (1) the thirtieth day after service of the Real Property Execution Notice, or (2) the day before the scheduled sheriff’s sale, with notice to the sheriff.

    The Real Property Execution Notice also recommends that the defendant take the Notice to a lawyer and states that the office of the plaintiff’s attorney may be able to provide the defendant with information about agencies that may offer legal services to eligible persons at a reduced fee or no fee.

    The Real Property Execution Notice and the required real property sale notice must be served (1) by the posting of handbills at the sheriff’s office and at the subject real property, (2) upon each person who has an interest in the property, as set forth in an affidavit executed by the plaintiff,[24] and (3) by publication.[25]


Personal Property Execution Notice

    If the General Execution Notice has not been served on the defendant, and the plaintiff seeks execution only against the defendant’s personal property, the plaintiff must serve upon the defendant a Personal Property Execution Notice, and a form petition to strike off the confessed judgment and request for a prompt hearing, along with the writ of execution issued to the sheriff.[26]  The form of the Personal Property Execution Notice is set forth in Rule 2966 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, and the form of the petition to strike off the confessed judgment and hearing request is set forth in Rule 2967 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

    The Personal Property Execution Notice notifies the defendant that a confessed judgment has been taken against the defendant, identifying the plaintiff in the caption of the Notice, and that the court issued a writ of execution directing the sheriff to take the defendant’s money or other property to pay the judgment. 

    The Personal Property Execution Notice then informs the defendant that if his or her money or property has already been taken, the defendant has the right to get the money or property back if the defendant did not voluntarily, intelligently and knowingly give up the constitutional right to notice and hearing before the entry of the judgment or if the defendant has defenses or other valid objections to the confessed judgment.

     The Personal Property Execution Notice then notifies the defendant that he or she has the right to a prompt court hearing if the defendant claims that he or she did not voluntarily, intelligently and knowingly give up rights to notice and hearing before the entry of the judgment.  The Notice then directs the defendant to fill out, sign, and deliver to the sheriff the petition to strike the judgment, which accompanies the writ of execution, if the defendant wishes to exercise the right to a prompt court hearing.  The Personal Property Execution Notice then warns the defendant to act promptly and states that it will be too late to regain the levied upon property if the defendant waits until after the sheriff sells the property or turns it over to the plaintiff.  That provision appears to conflict with the later warning to the defendant in the Notice to file the petition to strike the judgment within thirty days after the Notice was served on the defendant.

    Finally, similar to the other execution notices, the Personal Property Execution Notice recommends that the defendant take the Notice to a lawyer, and states the office of the plaintiff’s attorney may be able to provide the defendant with information about agencies that may offer legal services to eligible persons at a reduced fee or no fee.


Striking Off or Opening a Confessed Judgment

    Under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, the defendant may file a petition to strike off or open a confessed judgment at any time before the thirtieth day following the service of a General Execution Notice, a Real Property Execution Notice, or a Personal Property Execution Notice, as applicable[27] (unless the defendant can demonstrate compelling reasons for any delay).[28]  The defendant must serve a copy of the petition upon the plaintiff in the manner for pleadings filed after the initial pleading.[29]  A General Execution Notice, a Real Property Execution Notice, or a Personal Property Execution Notice each acts to begin the limitations period for challenging a confessed judgment.  As explained above, the form of a petition to strike off a confessed judgment is served on the defendant along with a writ of execution against the defendant’s personal property and a Personal Property Execution Notice, but there is no requirement that the form of a petition to strike off a confessed judgment accompany a General Execution Notice or a Real Property Execution Notice.

    The defendant may file a petition to strike off or open a confessed judgment in the county where the confessed judgment was originally entered, in any county to which the judgment has been transferred, or in any county in which the sheriff has received a writ of execution to seize property to pay the judgment.[30]

    All grounds for relief from a confessed judgment for money must be included in a single petition, except that if the defendant seeks to strike off the judgment on the basis that the defendant did not voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly waive prior notice and a hearing, the defendant can do so only (1) in support of a further request to stay execution on the confessed judgment if the court did not stay execution despite the timely filing of a petition to strike off or open the judgment and the presentation of prima facie evidence of a defense, or (2) in a petition to strike off a judgment filed in response to a Personal Property Execution Notice under Rule 2958.3, as discussed above.[31]

    If the defendant submits a petition to strike off the confessed judgment and a request for hearing to the sheriff under Rule 2958.3, in response to a Personal Property Execution Notice, the execution is immediately stayed and the sheriff will file the defendant’s petition to strike off the judgment and request for hearing with the common pleas court. The court will schedule an evidentiary hearing for a date within three business days after the sheriff filed the petition.[32]  The hearing on that petition is limited to a determination of whether the defendant voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived the right to notice and a hearing prior to the entry of the confessed judgment. If the court determines that the plaintiff has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived that right, the court will enter an order to that effect and the stay against execution is lifted automatically. If the court determines that the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived the right to notice and a hearing before judgment, the court will (1) vacate the writ of execution, (2) strike off the judgment (see discussion below for plaintiff’s options after the court strikes off a confessed judgment), and (3) order the return to the defendant of any of the defendant’s property that was seized, taken, or levied upon by the sheriff under the writ of execution.[33]

    Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2959 governs a petition to strike off a confessed judgment that is not filed in response to a Personal Property Execution Notice.  Rule 2959 also governs any petition that includes a request to open a confessed judgment.  If a petition to strike off or open a confessed judgment under Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2959 states prima facie grounds to strike off or open the judgment, the court must issue a rule to show cause to the plaintiff, and the court may grant a stay of the execution proceedings. After service of the show cause rule on the plaintiff, the plaintiff has until the date stated in the show cause rule to file an answer to the petition to strike off or open the judgment, stating all of plaintiff’s objections to the petition.[34]

    A petition filed by the defendant under Rule 2959 may seek to strike off the judgment, or, in the alternative, to open the judgment.  If the petition under Rule 2959 seeks to strike off the judgment or, in the alternative, to open the judgment, the court, in its discretion, may stay proceedings to open the judgment while the court determines whether to strike off the judgment.[35]  When determining that part of the Rule 2959 petition seeking to strike off the judgment (similar to a motion for judgment on the pleadings), the court is limited to (1) the record of the proceedings filed by the plaintiff, (2) the petition, and (3) the plaintiff’s answer to the petition.[36]  If the court finds a fatal defect or irregularity in the record, the court must strike off the confessed judgment.[37] If the court strikes off the judgment, the plaintiff may appeal to the superior court of Pennsylvania, re-file the complaint for confessed judgment with the defect corrected, if possible, or file an action on the instrument without utilizing the warrant of attorney.

    If the defendant disputes the truth of any fact asserted in the record of the confessed judgment case, the defendant should seek to open the judgment (similar to a vacation of a default judgment).[38] To obtain an order opening a confessed judgment, the defendant must present to the court a meritorious defense to the claims in the complaint.[39]

    If the court opens a confessed judgment, in whole or in part, the court will then set the case for trial or refer the case to arbitration. Because a petition to open a confessed judgment is an equitable matter, the Pennsylvania superior court will not overturn an order of the common pleas court opening, or refusing to open, a confessed judgment absent a manifest abuse of discretion by the court of common pleas.[40]

    If the common pleas court grants the defendant’s petition to open the judgment, the issues to be determined at trial are limited to those raised by the complaint for a confessed judgment, the petition to open the judgment, the plaintiff’s answer to the petition, and the court’s order opening the judgment.[41] If any party to the complaint desires a jury trial, that party must serve a written demand for a jury within twenty days after the order opening the judgment.[42] Although the parties may conduct discovery between the date of the order opening the judgment and the trial, the court will not consider supplemental pleadings unless the court grants leave or the other party assents.[43]

    The losing party at the trial can appeal the judgment of the common pleas court to the Pennsylvania superior court.


Conclusion

    Despite the rather onerous notice requirements to execute on a confessed judgment, Pennsylvania commercial lenders should preserve their remedies by including a carefully-worded warrant of attorney in their promissory note and guaranty forms.  Moreover, even though a sheriff cannot dispose of property seized under a writ of execution until at least thirty days after service of an execution notice upon the defendant, upon the entry of a confessed judgment, the lender nevertheless obtains a lien on the defendant’s real property in the county where the lender obtained the judgment, and the lender can also transfer the judgment to other Pennsylvania counties. In addition, given the short thirty-day window in which a defendant may file a petition to strike off and/or open a confessed judgment after being served with an execution notice, many defendants will miss their chance, and the confessed judgment will go unchallenged.

Donald E. Miehls
Of Counsel
Walter & Haverfield LLP
 

This overview is intended as general information.  Please note that this information is not legal advice.  The reader should consult an attorney with knowledge in this area of law to determine how the information applies to any specific situation.


Footnotes:

[1] Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Deglau, (C.A. 3, 2000), 207 F.3d 153, 176  http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5864446733766040872&q=deglau&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36, quoting Cutler Corp. v. Latshaw (1953), 374 Pa. 1, 4-5, 97 A.2d 234  http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=15063482533873674929&q=cutler+latshaw&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36

[2] Pennsylvania permits the use of judgment by confession language in other documents, including, for example, leases, in which a tenant may confess judgment to permit the landlord to eject the tenant from the premises upon a default under the lease.  See Pa.Stat., Title 68, 250.511.  For a description of the judgment by confession process in Ohio, see Miehls, Donald. Cognovit Judgments in Ohio [Internet]. Version 14. Knol. 2010 Jun 10.
http://knol.google.com/k/donald-miehls/cognovit-judgments-in-ohio/1ozaqwt3vlvgk/8

[3] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2950. 

[4] Deglau, 207 F.3d at 169.

[5] Id. At 168.

[6] See Atlantic Natl. Trust, LLC v. Stivala Invests., Inc. (Pa.Super. 2007), 922 A.2d 919, 924 http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=11452359710727205183&q=atlantic+stivala&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36  (parties may agree in instrument that lender may obtain more than one judgment on warrant of attorney). 

[7] Former Pa.R.Civ.P. 29519(a)(2).

[8] Pa. R. Civ. P. 2951(a).  If the instrument is more than twenty years old, the plaintiff may obtain a judgment under the warrant of attorney only by leave of court after notice to the defendant and the filing of the complaint.  Pa.R.Civ.P. 2951(b).  If the original, or a copy, of the instrument showing the defendant’s signature is not attached to the complaint, judgment on the complaint can be entered only by leave of court after notice to the defendant.  Pa.R.Civ.P. 2951(c).

[9] Pennsylvania’s court of general jurisdiction is the common pleas court, which has subject matter jurisdiction over actions based on a warrant of attorney.  Pa.Cons.Stat.Ann., Title 42, 931.  Judgments by confession may not be entered in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, Pa.Cons. Stat.Ann., Title 42, 1123, or in any magisterial district court in Pennsylvania, Pa.R.Conduct, Office Stds.Civ.P.Magisterial Dist.Judges 210(4). The Pittsburgh Magistrates Court has no jurisdiction to enter a judgment by confession.  Pa. Cons.Stat.Ann., Title 42, 1143. Federal district courts in Pennsylvania have rendered judgments by confession for money based on a warrant of attorney. See, e.g., Deglau, 207 F.3d at 159.   

[10] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2955(a).  A debtor who has been incorrectly identified in the complaint and had a confession  of judgment entered against him may petition the court for costs and reasonable attorney fees, as determined by the court.  Pa.Cons.Stat.Ann., Title 42, 2737.

[11] If the original is not attached to the complaint, the complaint must contain an averment that the attached copy is a true and correct reproduction of the original.  If neither the original nor a copy of the instrument can be attached, the complaint must include an explanation of why they are not available. Pa.R.Civ.P. 2952(2).

[12] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2952.

[13] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2962.

[14] Crum v. F.L. Shaffer Co.  (Pa. Super. 1997), 693 A.2d 984, 986.

[15] Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann., Title 42, 2737.1(b); see First Union Nat.. Bank v. Portside Refrigerated Services, Inc. (Pa. Super. 2003), 827 A.2d 1224, 1231,  http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=11426382600246074312&q=827+A.2d+1224&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36. The process for filing a motion to strike off a confessed judgment is set forth in Pa.R.Civ.P. 2959.

[16] Loc.R. 2951 of the Civil Rules of Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.  The requirements for the affidavit are set forth in Section 521, Title 50 Appendix, U.S. Code.

[17] Pa.R.Civ.P. 236(a).  The mailing of the prothonotary’s Judgment Notice under Pa.R.Civ.P. 236(a) does not begin the running of the statute of limitations to file a petition to strike off or open a confessed judgment.  The statute of limitations begins to run when the defendant is served with an execution notice.  Thomas Assoc.Investigative and Consulting Servs., Inc. v. GPI Ltd., Inc. (Pa. Super. 1997), 711 A.2d 506, 509,  http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8126133149675912762&q=711+A.2d+506&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36.  

[18] Pa.Cons. Stat.Ann., Title 42, 4303(a).

[19] Pa.R.Civ.P. 3002.

[20] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2956.1(c).  If the confessed judgment arose from a retail installment sale, contract or account under the Pennsylvania Goods and Services Installment Sales Act or the instrument containing the warrant of attorney constitutes a residential mortgage obligation under the Pennsylvania Loan Interest and Protection Law, the confessed judgment must be “conformed” as provided by Rule 2981 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure before execution.

[21] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2958.1.

[22] Id.; See Pa.R.Civ.P. 440.

[23] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2958.2.

[24] Pa.R.Civ.P. 3129.1.

[25] Pa.R.Civ.P. 3129.2.

[26] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2958.3.

[27] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2959(a)(3).

[28] Id.; but see M & P Mgt., L.P. v. Williams (2007), 594 Pa. 489, 493-494, 937 A.2d 398, 400-401 http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=18210978049645933619&q=937+A.2d+398&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36  (confessed judgment that is void can be stricken at any time).

[29] See Pa.R.Civ.P. 440.

[30] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2959(a)(1).

[31]Pa.R.Civ.P. 2959(a)(2).

[32]Pa.R.Civ.P. 2958.3(c).

[33] Id.

[34]Pa.R.Civ.P. 2959(b).

[35] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2959(e); see Continental Bank v. Frank (1985), 343 Pa. Super. 477, 482-483, 495 A.2d 565, 567,  http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=3536560701535848630&q=495+A.2d+565&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36.

[36] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2959(e); see WAMCO XXV, Ltd. v. DeSouza (Apr. 3, 2001), Philadelphia C.P. July Term 2000, No. 4385, 51 Pa.D.&C.4th 328, 333.

[37] See Franklin Interiors v. Wall of Fame Mgt. Co (1986), 510 Pa. 597, 601, 511 A.2d 761, 763  http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=10343164111528459165&q=511+A.2d+761&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36  (lack of plaintiff’s signature on contract was failure of express condition precedent to contract and precluded enforcement of warrant of attorney).

[38]  WAMCO XXV, Ltd., 51 Pa.D.&C.4th at 333; see Pa.R.Civ.P. 2959(e) (court must open the judgment if evidence is produced which in a jury trial would require submission to the jury); see, e.g., Resolution Trust Corp. v. Copley Qu-Wayne Assoc. (1996), 546 Pa. 98, 112, 683 A.2d 269, 276  http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=12698825320038749809&q=683+A.2d+269&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36  (the issue of express authority of a signatory to execute a warrant of attorney is a defense that can be established by a petition to open the judgment). 
 
[39] WAMCO XXV, Ltd., 51 Pa.D.&C.4th at 334.  For an explanation of the distinction between striking off a judgment and opening a judgment, see Team Capital Bank v. Husky Properties, Inc. (Apr. 8, 2010), Northampton C.P. No. C-48-CV-2009-6295. 
 

[40] Stahl Oil Co., Inc. v. Heisel (2004), 2004 Pa. Super. 349, 860 A.2d 508, 512,  http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1885814488444501678&q=860+A.2d+508&hl=en&as_sdt=2,36.

[41] Pa.R.Civ.P. 2960.

[42] Id.

[43] Fleet Natl. Bank v. Sterling & Locke, Inc (Oct. 23, 2006), Montgomery C.P No. 05-11725, 2006 Pa.D.&C. Dec. LEXIS 352, affirmed without opinion, Fleet Natl. Bank v. Sterling & Locke, Inc. (Montgomery Super. 2007), 927 A.2d 661, 661.

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