Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Superior Court Affirms Coordination of Post-Koken Actions Filed in Separate Counties

In its recent Decision in the case of Orsulak v. Penn National Mutual Cas. Ins. Co., No. 957 M.D.A. 2011 (Pa. Super. Feb. 23, 2012 Gantman, Alan and Mundy, JJ., (Memorandum Opinion by Mundy, J.), the Court affirmed the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Decision by Judge Joseph Van Jura (Ret.) to transfer venue of this post-Koken matter from Luzerne County to Monroe County.

In so ruling, the Superior Court found no abuse of any trial court discretion in the lower court's decision directing a coordination of actions in different counties.

The appellate court upheld the trial court’s reliance on Pa. R.C.P. 213.1 pertaining to the Court “Coordination of Actions in Different Counties.” The Superior Court upheld the trial court’s decision in this regard given that the actions involved common questions of law or fact which arose from the same transaction or occurrence and given the issue of the convenience of the parties.  A Tort Talk post detailing the trial court’s opinion can be viewed here.

By way of background, the Plaintiff’s claims in this matter arose out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Monroe County. The Plaintiffs file a Writ of Summons in Monroe County against the tortfeasors only.

The case in Monroe County then sat dormant with a Writ only filed while the Plaintiff’s attempted to resolve their claims with a worker’s compensation carrier with Penn National as the UIM carrier.

When those separate claims could not be resolved, the Plaintiffs filed a separate Complaint against Penn National as the UIM carrier alleging causes of action for breach of contract and bad faith in Luzerne County.

Thereafter, the UIM carrier filed the Motion for Coordination/Petition to Transfer at issue. After applying the six (6) factors under Rule 213.1(c), along with guidance from the Explanatory Comment under that rule, Judge Van Jura ruled that the Motion for Coordination would be granted and that venue in the Luzerne County case should be transferred to Monroe County.

Anyone desiring a copy of the Pennsylvania Superior Court’s affirming, non-precedential decision in Orsulak may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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