Friday, October 11, 2019

Judge Terrence R. Nealon of Lackawanna County Addresses Proper Arguments on Preliminary Objections to Joinder Complaints

In the case of Diaz-Martinez v. Maid Rite, No. 17-CV-577 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Sept. 17, 2019 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed Preliminary Objections to a joinder of Additional Defendants in a products liability action.

According to the Opinion, the Defendant manufacturers in this products liability action secured prior leave of court to file a late Joinder Complaint which joined and asserted indemnification and contribution claims against certain Additional Defendants on the grounds that those Additional Defendants made alterations to the product following the manufacturing of the product, which alterations allegedly created the alleged defect at issue.

The Additional Defendants who were joined in the matter filed Preliminary Objections to the late joinder and argued that the original Defendant had not established a reasonable justification for the delay in filing the Joinder Complaint. The Additional Defendants also asserted that they had been prejudiced by their untimely joinder.

Judge Nealon reiterated, as he has in prior decisions, that under Pa. R.C.P. 2253(b), only plaintiffs may challenge late joinders on the basis “that the joining party has not shown a reasonable justification for its delay” in seeking the joinder.

The court noted that the Plaintiffs in this case had not objected to the late joinder of the Additional Defendant. Accordingly, the court found that the issue of a reasonable justification for the delay is an irrelevant consideration in the matter.

The court went on to reject the claim of prejudice by the Additional Defendants by noting that no depositions have been scheduled to take, the parties had not conducted any joint inspection of the product at issue, no discovery deadlines have been put in place, and a trial date has not yet even been requested.

The court also noted that the Additional Defendants had not identified that any evidence was lost or destroyed prior to their joinder. Nor was there any allegation that the ability of the Additional Defendants to conduct discovery or prepare their defense had been jeopardized by the late joinder.

Consequently, the court overruled the Preliminary Objections filed by the Additional Defendants to the Joinder Complaint.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK

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