Friday, September 22, 2017

Judge Nealon of Lackawanna County Addresses Request for Financial Worth Discovery in Punitive Damages Case

In the case of Charlesworth v. Galacci, No. 2014-CV-3390 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Sept. 19, 2017 Nealon, J.), the trial court in Lackawanna County addressed the merits of a Plaintiff's motion for punitive damages discovery in a dog bite case.

Judge Nealon reviewed the Plaintiff's motion for leave of court to gather such discovery on the Defendant's financial worth under the standards set forth under Pa.R.C.P. 4003.7 and the case of Kirkbride v. Lisbon Contractors, Inc., 555 A.2d 800, 803 (Pa. 1989).  The court ruled that the Plaintiff made a proper prima facie showing of a valid punitive damages claim in support of the request for the discovery order.  As such, the request for financial worth discovery was allowed.

The court also looked past the fact that the Plaintiff's motion was filed after a Certificate of Readiness had been filed.  While the court noted that, generally speaking, requests for discovery after the filing of a Certificate of Readiness are frowned upon, in this case the Defendants had also conducted discovery after the filing of the Certificate.  Moreover, the court also noted that it found no prejudice to the defense in allowing the discovery as the requested information was relevant to the jury's consideration of potential punitive damages to possibly be awarded.

While discovery of the Defendant's financial worth was allowed, the court did order that any information disclosed must be kept confidential and could only be disclosed as may be necessary for trial purposes, including the provision of such information to expert witnesses.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.


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