Sunday, May 12, 2013

Plaintiff Permitted to Consolidate Two Separate Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuits Under Pa.R.C.P. 213

Judge R. Stanton Wettick of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas recently allowed the consolidation of two entirely separate motor vehicle accident lawsuits by a same Plaintiff in the case of Jackson v. Drew, No. GD-12-008737 (C.P. Allegheny April 24, 2013 Wettick, J.). 
Judge R. Stanton Wettick
Allegheny County
According to Judge Wettick's Opinion, the Plaintiff was involved in two separate car accidents in Allegheny County.  The Plaintiff asserted that the second accident aggravated his same injuries from the first accident.  The Plaintiff filed separate suits against the drivers.  Both suits were filed in Allegheny County.  

Thereafter, the Plaintiff filed a motion under Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 213 to consolidate the cases alleging a concern that both defendants in the cases would try to blame the other for any of the injuries asserted.

Judge Wettick granted the motion and consolidated the cases under the rationale that both accidents arose out of a common question of law, i.e., that the common question of fact as to what injuries were caused by which accident. 

In his Opinion, Judge Wettick distinguished the separate standards applicable to permissive joinder of separate claims under Pa.R.C.P. 2229.

Anyone desiring a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg, PA firm of Schmidt Kramer for bringing this case to my attention.

Commentary:

For a similar result under Pa.R.C.P. 213, see Scoggins v. Hardy, 10 Pa.D.&C.4th 64 (C.P. York 1991).

For a contrary analysis under an application of the permissive joinder rules under Pa.R.C.P. 2229 pertaining to Complaints, see Kalker v. Moyer, 921 A.2d 21 (Pa.Super. 2007);  Alper v. Yellow Cab Co., 12 Pa.D.&C.3d 355 (C.P. Phila. Co. 1979).

From the above, it appears that, although two separate accidents can not be pled in the same Complaint under Pa.R.C.P. 2229, in certain circumstances, trial courts may use their discretion to consolidate matters under Pa.R.C.P. 213.

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