Friday, February 16, 2018

Motion to Coordinate Post-Koken Actions Pending In Separate Counties Into One County Granted

In his recent decision in the case of Grimes v. Velez, No. 2016-CV-4071 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Jan. 22, 2018 Gibbons, J.), Judge James A. Gibbons of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas granted a Plaintiff’s Motion to Coordinate separate motor vehicle accident litigations filed in separate counties.   The court granted the motion under Pa. R.C.P. 213.1.  

By way of background, the entire case against the tortfeasor Defendant and the Plaintiff’s own UIM carrier initially began under a single Complaint filed in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas.   However, the UIM carrier succeeded on Preliminary Objections to the Complaint on the basis that venue was improper in Lackawanna County under a forum selection clause.  The UIM portion of the case was therefore carved out and transferred to Monroe County.  

Through an error by the Lackawanna County Prothonotary, the entire case was transferred to Monroe County.   At that point, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to Consolidate the matters in Monroe County.   The Monroe County court denied the Plaintiff’s motion based upon a lack of jurisdiction over Defendant Velez given the mistake by the Lackawanna County Prothonotary in also transferring that part of the case.  The Monroe County Court directed that the tort claim against the tortfeasor defendant be transferred back to Lackawanna County.

Thereafter, the Plaintiff filed the subject Motion to Coordinate pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 213.1 seeking a transfer of the tort claim back to Monroe County. 

Judge James A. Gibbons
Lackawanna County
In his decision, Judge Gibbons noted that the claims against the tortfeasor Defendant and the UIM carrier arose from the same occurrence, i.e., the same motor vehicle accident.   The court noted that this factor alone served as a basis for granting the coordination motion.   The court additionally noted that common questions of law or fact existed as well.  

On the issue of the convenience of parties, the Lackawanna County Court recognized that litigation in Monroe County would involve roughly one (1) hour of travel from Lackawanna County.

The ruling in favor of coordination was also compelled by the notion that only one trial should take place on the questions presented as they all arose out of the same accident.   The court additionally noted that it was likely that all of the witnesses and parties called to testify with respect to the tort action would also be called to testify with respect to the UIM action.  

Judge Gibbons rejected the tortfeasor’s Defendant’s claims of prejudice and unreasonable delay if he was required to defend the case in Monroe County.  

Lastly, the court found that the interest of judicial economy and the prevention of duplicative or inconsistent Orders weighed in favor of coordinating and transferring to Lackawanna County to the Monroe County case.  

For these reasons, the court granted the Plaintiff’s Motion for Coordination under Pa. R.C.P. 213.1.  

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

No comments:

Post a Comment