Sunday, March 28, 2010

Recent Cases of Note

Harlan v. Pennsylvania State Police et al., PICS Case No. 10-1506 (Lawrence Co. March 4, 2010 Cox, C.J.).

Limited Tort Motion for Summary Judgment denied.

The Plaintiff was injured as a result of being rear-ended by a State Police cruiser that was responding to a call. The Plaintiff alleged injuries to his head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and back. He missed work over the first three days after the accident.

The Plaintiff eventually underwent a wrist surgery and two shoulder surgeries followed by lengthy sessions of physical therapy. The Plaintiff also missed several months of work following each surgery. He also testified that he was prevented from enjoying his pre-accident activities of archery hunting, fishing, and working on automobiles. He also modified how he drove and the manner in which he did his lawn work.

Viewing the case in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the court denied the defendant's limited tort motion for summary judgment and allowed the case to proceed to a jury on the question of whether the Plaintiff sustained a serious injury.


Summerson v. HRI Inc., PICS Case No. 10-1455 (Centre Co. March 9, 2010 Grine, J.).

The trial court granted a defendant's Motion in Limine seeking to preclude a witness to an auto accident, who was a firefighter, from testifying on topics within his expertise as a firefighter and what he had experienced at other accidents.

The Court held that witnesses to a motor vehicle accident may only testify regarding their observations on the day of the accident and may not testify regarding observations of similar scenes on different days.

The Court relied upon Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 701 and stated, "If the witness is not testifying as an expert, the witness' testimony in the form of opinion or inferences is limited to those opinions or inferences which are rationally based on the perception of the witness, helpful to a clear understanding of the witness' testimony or the determination of a fact issue, and not based on scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge."

Motion in Limine of Defendant granted.


If you desire a copy of these cases, you may secure them for a small fee by calling the Pennsylvania Law Weekly's Instant Case Service (1-800-276-7427) and giving the noted PICS Case Numbers.

Source: "Case Digests" of March 23, 2010 Pennsylvania Law Weekly.

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