Friday, January 30, 2015

Judge Williamson of Monroe County Follows Rule of Consolidation for Post-Koken Negligence/UIM Claims

Another Monroe County decision in favor of consolidation of Post-Koken negligence/UIM claims was recently handed down by Judge David J. Williamson in the case of Cahill v. Fritz and Hartford Ins. Co., No. 7056-CV-2014 (C.P. Monroe Co. Jan. 16, 2015 Williamson, J.).

This automobile accident matter involved claims of negligence and a request for punitive damages against the defendant driver combined with a UIM claim against the Plaintiff's automobile insurance carrier.

The defendant driver was charged with a DUI which led the Plaintiff to plead for punitive damages.  As such, the defendant UIM carrier filed Preliminary Objections seeking a severance of claims in an effort to avoid the potential end result of being at the same trial with that defendant driver and an angry jury.

Judge David J. Williamson
Monroe County
In denying the UIM carrier's preliminary objections requesting a severance of claims based upon a misjoinder of causes of actions argument, Judge Williamson referred to a prior decision by his fellow Monroe County judge, the Hon. Arthur Zulick in the case of Cocuzza v. Castro, No. 406-CV-2012 (C.P. Monroe 2012).  The court found that all claims presented arose out of the same accident and, therefore, could be joined in one action.

As for the argument by the UIM carrier that it would be prejudiced at trial due to the defendant driver's alleged DUI status and the punitive damages claim, Judge Williamson did note that issue of whether the case should be bifurcated for trial purposes could be presented to the court at the conclusion of discovery. 

But for now, at the preliminary objections stage, Judge Williamson found that the case should remain consolidated for discovery purposes in the interests of judicial economy.

Anyone wishing to secure a copy of Judge Williamson's Opinion in the Cahill case may contact me at dancummins@comcast.com.

I send thanks to the prevailing Plaintiff's attorney, Kevin Conaboy, Esq., of the Scranton, PA law firm of Abrahamsen, Conaboy & Abrahamsen for bringing a copy of this decision to my attention.

I also note that the Post-Koken Scorecard has been updated with this decision.


Commentary:  While the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas has repeatedly ruled in favor of the consolidation of Post-Koken negligence and UIM claims, the same court has also repeated ruled in favor of the severance of Post-Koken combined UIM and bad faith claims. 

The relevant decisions in this regard can be found on the Post-Koken Scorecard.

No comments:

Post a Comment