Thursday, October 25, 2012

Judge Nealon Addresses Rule 213(a) Motion for Joint Trial

In his recent October 1, 2012 Opinion in the case of Fraynert v. Delaware and Hudson Railway Co., Inc., No. 2005-CV-1822 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Oct. 1, 2012 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed a Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Joint Trial in a case involving eight (8) retired railroad workers who sued their former employer under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) for pulmonary damage allegedly caused by negligent exposure to coal dust and diesel fumes. The Plaintiffs filed the Motion for Joint Trial under Pa. R.C.P. 213(a).

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
In his Opinion, Judge Nealon provides a thorough analysis of the test to be applied in deciding a Motion for a joint trial filed under Pa. R.C.P. 213(a).

In this matter, the court noted that the Plaintiffs sought to recover non-economic damages under the same federal statute and represented that they would present, and oppose, expert testimony from the same two medical witnesses. It was also noted that many of the Plaintiffs worked at common locations and performed identical job tasks and, as such, would offer comparable testimony regarding their working conditions and exposure to coal dust and diesel fumes at those sites.

Accordingly, the court held that the eight (8) FELA cases involved common questions of law and fact that warranted the joinder of the cases for trial.

Judge Nealon also found that the considerations of judicial economy supported the consolidation for trial as a joint trial would require only one jury and would consume 8-10 days of trial while separate trials would necessitate eight juries and 24-32 trial days.

Due to the common issues of law and fact in these separate matters, the cost savings resulting from a joint trial, and due to the lack of any prejudice from such a consolidation, the court granted the Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Joint Trial pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 213(a).

Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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