Sunday, July 21, 2019

Parameters of Pre-Complaint Discovery Addressed by Judge Terrence R. Nealon of Lackawanna County

Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas
Scranton, PA
In the case of Doe v. Career Technology Center of Lacka. Co.. No. 2019-CV-3029 (C.P. Lacka. Co. July 18, 2019 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon addressed the allowance of pre-Complaint discovery under Pa.R.C.P. 4003.8 in a personal injury matter.

According to the Opinion, this personal injury civil lawsuit allegedly arose out of improper physical contact by a defendant teacher with the Plaintiff-student.

The Plaintiff filed a writ of summons in which it was indicated that pre-Complaint discovery was to be completed by the Plaintiff in order to draft the Complaint. 

The defense responded by filing a Rule to File Complaint, which required the Plaintiff to file a Complaint within 20 days of the filing of the Rule.

The Plaintiff filed this Motion to stay the Rule to File Complaint.

In opposition to the Plaintiff's Motion, the defense argued, in part, that it was immune from suit under Pennsylvania law and that, as such, it would be futile to allow the Plaintiff to conduct pre-Complaint discovery and to file a Complaint.  The defense further asserted that such discovery would be unduly burdensome and oppressive as a result.

Judge Nealon wrote a thorough Opinion addressing the law of pre-Complaint discovery as set forth in prior appellate decisions and as codified under Pa.R.C.P. 4003.8.  Accordingly, this Opinion serves as nice primer in this area of the law.

Generally speaking, decisions on whether or not to allow pre-Complaint discovery, as well as the scope of such discovery, is largely left to the discretion of the trial court judge within the parameters noted in Pa.R.C.P. 4003.8.

In the end, the application of this law to the case at hand led the Court to grant the Plaintiff's motion to stay the effect of the Rule to File Complaint and to allow limited pre-Complaint discovery to go forward.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

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