Monday, April 3, 2017

Enforceability of Written Waiver of Right to Seek Pa.R.C.P. 229.1 Damages Addressed

In the recent case of Markiewicz v. CVS Care Mart, Corp., No. 2014-CV-4043 (C.P. Lacka. Co. March 10, 2017 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrance R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed a Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions under Pa. R.C.P. 229.1 relative to a Defendant’s alleged failure to pay settlement funds within the twenty (20) day period required by that Rule.  

According to the Opinion, after the Defendant in this personal injury action failed to pay the settlement funds to the Plaintiff within twenty (20) days of the Defendant’s receipt of the executed Release, the Plaintiff filed a motion under Pa. R.C.P. 229.1 seeking to recover interest and counsel fees from the Defendant.  

The defense asserted that the Plaintiff had agreed in writing to waive the right to seek such additional damages or interest under Rule 229.1.   

However, the Plaintiff asserted that the Defendant subsequently breached the terms of the parties’ settlement agreement by deducting the full amount of the Medicare lien from the Plaintiff’s gross settlement and forwarding those funds directly to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, thereby depriving the Plaintiff of her ability to negotiate the Medicare lien down.  

Judge Nealon confirmed that the Plaintiff expressly waived any claim for additional damages or interests under Pa. R.C.P. 229.1 in the settlement agreement that the Plaintiff executed.   Accordingly, the court ruled that, based upon that clear and unambiguous language, the Plaintiff was unable to recover any such damages available under that rule.  

However, Judge Nealon went on to rule that, if the Defendant’s alleged actions violated the terms of the settlement agreement relative to the Medicare lien, the Plaintiff’s proper remedy was to file a Petition to Enforce the Settlement Agreement to recover any consequential damages for the Defendant’s alleged breach of that agreement. 

Accordingly, the Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions under Pa. R.C.P. 229.1 was denied without prejudice to the Plaintiff’s right to file a Petition to Enforce the Settlement Agreement.  

Anyone wishing to review Judge Nealon's decision in this case may click this LINK.


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