Sunday, September 23, 2012

Potential Effect of Defendant's Bankruptcy on Personal Injury Matter

In its recent June 26, 2012 decision in the case of Gubbiotti v. Santey, Nos. 880-MDA-2011, 885-MDA-2011 (Pa. Super. June 26, 2012 Stevens, P.J., Panella, J., and Mundy, J.)(Opinion by Panella, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the entry of summary judgment by Judge Chester P. Muroski of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in favor of a Defendant in a case in which the Plaintiff attempted to pursue a recovery from the Defendant's liability carrier after the Defendant had been discharged in a bankruptcy matter.

The Plaintiffs argued that the discharge of the Defendant’s debts in bankruptcy did not impede the Plaintiff’s ability to pursue an action to collect damages from the Defendant’s insurance company for personal injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident.

After a review of the case before it, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that, since there was no timely objection by the Plaintiff to the discharge of the Defendant’s debts, the trial court properly entered summary judgment in favor of the Defendant in the underlying personal injury action.

Anyone involved in a personal injury action in which the Defendant tortfeasor is involved in a bankruptcy may wish to review this decision as to the impact of the bankruptcy proceedings on the civil litigation matter.

In this matter, the Defendant went through a bankruptcy, and after the bankruptcy court discharged all of the Defendant’s debts accumulated prior to the Discharge Order date, the Defendant filed a motion seeking to amend his New Matter in the underlying personal injury action to include the affirmative defense of a discharge from bankruptcy. The Defendant thereafter moved to obtain summary judgment on that basis, which was granted by the trial court and, in this opinion, affirmed by the Superior Court.

Anyone desiring to review a copy of this decision may click HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney Howard M. Levinson of the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania law office of Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald for bringing this case to my attention.

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