Delay In Filing An Appeal Due to Illness of the Lawyer's Secretary

In Bass v. Commonwealth, 485 Pa. 256, 401 A.2d 1133 (1979) the delay in filing the appeal for the client was caused by the illness of the attorney's secretary. The Court concluded that neither the attorney nor his secretary acted negligently, and reasoned that non-negligent conduct does not ordinarily result in liability, so that where there "has been a non-negligent failure to file a timely appeal which was corrected within a very short time, during which any prejudice to the other side of the controversy would necessarily be minimal," nunc pro tunc relief should be granted. Bass, 485 Pa. at 260, 401 A.2d at 1135-36. In Cook v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 543 Pa. 381, 671 A.2d 1130 (1996), the list was again expanded to cover the non-negligent circumstances of the litigant, such as hospitalization. In both Bass and Cook, as soon as the error in making a timely appeal was recognized, the litigants acted promptly, and this prompt attention to the problem was also an important factor in the Supreme Court's decision to allow a nunc pro tunc appeal.