Friday, February 23, 2018

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reviews Collateral Order Doctrine for Appeals

Tort Talkers may recall prior posts on the Lebanon County case of Shearer v. Hafer pertaining to whether a Plaintiff is entitle to have a representative present during portions of a neuropsychological IME. 

The Tort Talk post on the Superior Court's decision in this case can be viewed HERE.  The post on the trial court's decision can be viewed HERE.  Concisely, the Superior Court affirmed the trial court's order allowing a representative of the Plaintiff to be present during the preliminary interview phase of the neuropsychological evaluation, but not during the standardized testing portion of the evaluation.

Now comes the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision recently handed down in this case on January 18, 2018 ruling that the Pennsylvania Superior Court erred in even considering the issue on appeal as the trial court's order was not an appealable order as of right under Pa.R.A.P. 313 where the trial court order only met one of the three prongs of the collateral order doctrine.  As such, the Superior Court's decision on the issue was vacated.

The Majority Opinion of the Court in Shearer v. Hafer, No. 93 MAP 2016 (Pa. Jan. 18, 2018), written by Justice Todd, can be viewed HERE.

Justice Wecht's Concurring Opinion can be viewed HERE.

Justice Mundy's Dissenting Opinion can be viewed HERE.

This Opinion may be a good one to consult if you have a question on whether a trial court order is appealable under the collateral order doctrine under Pa.R.A.P. 313. 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reaffirmed the rule of law that the collateral order doctrine is to be narrowly construed and that each of the three prongs to allow for an appeal must be clearly present.

The three prongs of the collateral order doctrine as set forth under Pa.R.A.P. 313(b) are:

(1) the order is separable from and collateral to the main cause of action

(2) the right involved in the order is too important to be denied review by the appellate court, and

(3) the question presented is such that if review is postponed until the final judgment of the case, the claim will be irreparably lost.

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