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A Confessed Judgment Filed After The Statute Of Limitations Will Be Stricken

April 18th, 2018

In Driscoll v. Arena, 2018 WL 823202, (Pa. Super., 2/12/18), the Superior Court affirmed the lower court’s order striking a confessed judgment because it was filed after the applicable statute of limitations.  This case arises out of three promissory notes two of which were dated March 24, 2005, and the third was dated October 27, 2009.

On May 25, 2016, complaints in confession of judgment were filed.  On September 23, 2016, Motions to Strike and/or Open Confessed Judgment were filed asserting that the judgments were void because the  judgments were filed after the statute of limitations for unsealed documents.  The lower court granted the Motions to Strike finding that the promissory notes were not instruments under seal, and therefore, the complaints for confession of judgment were filed after the statute of limitations had expired.

An appeal was filed in which it was argued that the documents were sealed instruments because they contained language in the “Waiver” paragraph stating, “Borrower intends this to be a sealed instrument and to be legally bound thereby,” and therefore the twenty year statute of limitations for sealed instruments applied.  However, the court concluded that the instrument was not a sealed instrument because there was no passage as part of the signature lines or elsewhere to the effect that the parties caused the agreement to be duly executed and sealed, and there was no language anywhere to indicate the notes had been “signed under” or “given under seal,” nor does the pre-printed word “SEAL” or other such mark appear anywhere near the signature.  The court held that the sentence buried in the Waiver clause was not sufficient to make the documents instruments under seal.  Thus the court found that complaint for confession of judgment was filed after the applicable four or six year statutes of limitations.  The Superior Court affirmed.

Before Ott, Stabile, JJ., and Stevens, P.J.E.  Opinion by Stevens, P.J.E.  Stabile filed a Dissenting Opinion.

Judge Stabile concluded that the document was an instrument under seal by virtue of the statement of the parties’ intention contained therein.  Thus, he would have held that the twenty year statute applied.

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