Superior Court Affirms Elliott Greenleaf’s $20 Million Chester County Jury Verdict

Firm News

June 15, 2017

On June 13, 2017, the Pennsylvania Superior Court unanimously affirmed the $20,000,000 verdict won by Elliott Greenleaf’s Timothy T. Myers, Marvin Wilenzik, Stewart J. Greenleaf, Jr. and Michelle E. Costa in Chester County for Plaintiff Applecross Club Operations, LLC (“Applecross”) against Defendants Pulte Homes Of Pennsylvania, L.P., Pulte Home Corporation Of The Delaware Valley and PH 50 LLC (collectively, “Pulte”) in Applecross v Pulte Homes of Pennsylvania, et al. (Pa. Superior Ct., No. 791 EDA 2016). The Superior Court panel consisted of the Honorable Jack A. Panella, the Honorable Jacqueline O. Shogan and the Honorable Lillian Harris Ransom. The opinion was authored by Judge Panella.

Applecross filed a Complaint against Pulte for breach of contract and promissory estoppel in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County at No. 2012-09804, alleging that Pulte induced it to purchase and operate a champion golf course and luxury country club facilities by promising to build over 1,000 residential homes in a planned community sprawling across two townships in Chester County, East Brandywine Township and West Brandywine Township. Less than two years after Applecross acquired the golf and country club, Pulte walked away from building a large portion of the community in West Brandywine Township, including 375 residences.

Applecross alleged that Pulte’s refusal to build the 375 units in West Brandywine Township was a breach of contract, and cost Applecross millions of dollars in lost revenues and profits.

Pulte asserted that it never agreed to build over 1000 homes, and never agreed to build the portion of the community in West Brandywine Township. Prior to the trial, Judge Mahon found that the written agreements between Applecross and Pulte were ambiguous because of a key missing exhibit that defined and described the community Pulte agreed to build, and ruled that parol evidence is necessary to interpret the contract.

On September 29, 2015, the jury awarded the $20 million dollar verdict after a trial before the Honorable William P. Mahon in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County. The jury found that Pulte breached a written agreement to build over 1000 homes, including 375 age restricted ones in West Brandywine Township, and awarded $20,000,000 in damages.

On appeal, Pulte argued four issues of error by Judge Mahon and sought a directed verdict, a new trial and/or a remittitur. The Superior Court rejected each argument raised by Pulte and affirmed Judge Mahon on all issues.

Please contact Tim Myers at (215) 977-1000 for additional information.