University of Scranton v. Zoning Hearing Board of City of Scranton, PICS Case No. 14-0062 (C.P. Lackawanna Jan. 14, 2014) Nealon, J. (13 pages).

COURTS OF COMMON PLEAS

The Legal Intelligencer

LAND USE AND PLANNING

Motion for Reconsideration • Zoning • Sanctions • Pa.R.Civ.P. 1023.1(c)

University of Scranton v. Zoning Hearing Board of City of Scranton, PICS Case No. 14-0062 (C.P. Lackawanna Jan. 14, 2014) Nealon, J. (13 pages).

The court granted the University of Scranton's motion for sanctions against Robert C. Bolus and his attorney, Anthony J. Moses, awarding the university counsel fees and expenses for violations of Pa.R.Civ.P 1023.1(c).

In March, 2013, the university filed an application with the Zoning Hearing Board of the City of Scranton ("ZHB"), seeking a dimen-sional variance for three sight distance triangle requirements in order to raze an existing, non-conforming structure. The university planned to replace the structure with a new building in the same dimensional footprint. ZHB conducted a hearing on the university's application for a variance. Bolus did not seek to intervene or participate in any way in that hearing. ZHB denied the university's application and the university appealed. Bolus did not intervene or participate in the zoning appeal. The university succeeded on its appeal and its variance was granted on August 9, 2013.

Bolus and his attorney, Moses, filed a motion for reconsideration on September 9, 2013. That motion did not include a certificate of service. The court directed Moses to immediately serve all those required to receive notice of the motion pursuant to court rule. Moses never served counsel for the parties with the motion for reconsideration, nor did he ever file the required certificate of service.

On September 19, 2013, counsel for the university sent Moses a letter stating that if the motion were not withdrawn by September 23, 2013, the university would seek sanctions. Moses admitted in an email the motion should be dismissed.

The court filed an order on September 20, 2013, ordering Bolus and Moses to file a memorandum of law on or before September 30, 2013, specifically addressing the substantive and procedural flaws in their motion for reconsideration. No memorandum was ever filed by Bolus or Moses in response to this order. On October 1, 2013, the university filed a motion for sanctions.

A firm time schedule had been established for the university's demolition of the existing structure subject to the variance. The pendency of Bolus' motion for reconsideration affected the release of bond proceeds to finance the project.

The court entered an order dated October 2, 2013, dismissing the motion for reconsideration, stating that Bolus lacked standing and that his motion was completely devoid of merit. Bolus and Moses were directed to file a response to the university's motion for sanctions. No response was ever filed. Instead, Moses filed a praecipe to withdraw the motion for reconsideration, even though the court had already dismissed it.

Due to Moses' repeated refusals to comply with court orders, the court granted the motion for sanctions, requiring Moses to pay reasonable counsel fees and expenses incurred by the university in opposing the motion for reconsideration.