Protection from Having to Defend Several Suits on the Same Cause of Action at the Same Time
In Hessenbruch v. Markle, 194 Pa. 581, 593, 45 A. 669, 671 (1900) (quoting Harrisburg v. Harrisburg City Passenger Ry. Co., 1 Pa. D. 192 (C.P. Dauphin 1892)), the Supreme Court stated:
"A plea of former suit pending must allege that the case is the same, the parties the same, and the rights asserted and the relief prayed for the same...."
The purpose of the doctrine is to protect a defendant from having to defend several suits on the same cause of action at the same time, and it requires more than a mere allegation of a pending suit: it requires proof that the prior case is the same, that the parties are substantially the same and that the relief requested is the same. Penox Techs., Inc. v. Foster Med. Corp., 376 Pa. Super. 450, 546 A.2d 114 (Pa. Super. 1988).
In Virginia Mansions Condo. Ass'n v. Lampl, 380 Pa. Super. 452, 552 A.2d 275 (Pa. Super. 1988), a condominium association filed an action against an owner to recover unpaid common fees and assessments; the owner filed a counterclaim claiming damages from the association for failure to repair fire damage, and the association filed preliminary objections raising the pendency of a prior action by the owner.
The Superior Court reversed dismissal of the owner's counterclaim.
Although the same basic operative facts were involved, the parties were substantially different.
Also, the rights asserted and the relief requested were not identical. See also Glazer v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 281 Pa. Super. 621, 422 A.2d 642 (Pa. Super. 1980) (holding lis pendens not available where earlier actions sought only equitable relief while a later action was for damages in assumpsit).