Friday, May 15, 2020

Motion To Consolidate Two Separate Post-Koken Cases Denied in Lackawanna County


In the case of Pikula v. Ciabocchi, No. 18-CV-1753 (C.P. Lacka. Co. May 11, 2020 Nealon, J.), the court denied a motion by a tortfeasor Defendant to consolidate, for trial, two (2) separate post-Koken matters arising out of the same motor vehicle accident. 

According to the Opinion, the case involved a Plaintiff-driver and a Plaintiff-passenger, who were located in the same vehicle during the course of a rear-end accident. These Plaintiffs filed separate personal injury lawsuits. 

The Plaintiff-passenger filed suit against the tortfeasor Defendant as well as her own UIM carrier. 

The Plaintiff-driver, however, only sued the tortfeasor and did not present any UIM claim to date. 

The court also noted that, during the course of discovery, the tortfeasor Defendant had admitted liability for causing the accident. 

It was also noted that the Plaintiff-passenger had certified her case for trial but that the Plaintiff-driver had not yet had her separte case under a separate docket number certified as ready for trial. 

After the Plaintiff-passenger had filed a Certificate of Readiness for Trial, the tortfeasor Defendant filed a motion requesting the consolidation of both cases for a joint trial pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 213(a).  
In his Opinion, Judge Nealon noted that, generally speaking, cases may be consolidated for trial under Rule 213(a) if they involve a common question of law or fact or arise from the same transaction or occurrence. 

The court ruled that, since the tortfeasor had admitted liability, these two (2) car accident lawsuits “no longer present any common question or law or fact and instead involve individual injuries, different items of damages, and distinct supporting evidence.” 

The court also noted that the tortfeasor’s acceptance of liability also eliminates the prospect of inconsistent verdicts regarding liability. 

The court additionally noted that, the Plaintiff-passenger’s case was scheduled for trial to take place in less than four (4) months, while the Plaintiff driver’s lawsuit has not yet been certified for trial. 

For these reasons, the court found that the consolidation of these matters for a joint trial is not warranted and the Motion to Consolidate these post-Koken actions for trial was denied. 

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

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