Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Code of Civility Relied Upon For Admonishment of Counsel

Can the Code of Civility serve as a basis of a trial court Order admonishing counsel in a case for conduct in litigation? 

In the case of Barbarevech v. Tomlinson, No. 18-CV-4821 (C.P. June , 2020 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Commons addressed numerous discovery related motions filed by each party in what he described as an “exceedingly acrimonious motor vehicle accident litigation.” Of note, the Court granted the Plaintiff’s motion to admonish the defense attorney under the Code of Civility.

The court addressed issues regarding the defense efforts to compel discovery depositions of three (3) treating physicians that the Plaintiffs have identified as expert witnesses or to alternatively require the Plaintiff to call those physicians as experts at trial, to strike the Plaintiffs’ objections to discovery responses and compel more specific answers, and to be granted “priority” with respect to the ability to question a particular deponent first during her deposition. 

The Plaintiffs’ motions requested the issuance of an Order barring further discovery related to three (3) discontinued medical malpractice actions that were filed against the Plaintiff, who happened to be a physician. The Plaintiffs also sought the production of the Defendant driver’s cell phone records and Answers to Interrogatories regarding the defense expert’s litigation activity and income. 

Also of note, the court addressed the Plaintiffs’ motion seeking a formal admonishment of the defense counsel for certain conduct to date that the Plaintiffs asserted was in violation of the Code of Civility and the Rules of Professional Conduct particularly with reference to written communications by email between the parties. 

The court’s 53 page Opinion offers a good read and a thorough analysis of all of these issues presented. 

In the end, the court agreed to grant in part and deny in part the various motions presented. With respect to the Plaintiffs’ motion regarding the alleged violations of the Code of Civility, the court agreed that an admonishment to the defense counsel to be more attentive to the principles of professionalism was warranted.

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

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