Tuesday, June 30, 2020

No More Appeals from Discovery Decisions in Lackawanna County From Discovery Court to Another Judge Within This Court

Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas

In the case of Rao v. Menzel, No. 18-CV-2102 (C.P. Lacka. Co. April 24, 2020 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas reviewed the Local Rules of that Court and confirmed that there is no longer a right of appeal with respect to discovery rulings given the previous change in the Local Rules.

By way of background, several years ago, the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas instituted a change in the Local Rules which created a Discovery Master position which was filled by a local attorney selected by the Court to hear discovery disputes.  That Local Rule allowed for appeals from the Discovery Master to a trial court judge in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Please for further review if a fee was paid to file the appeal.

In more recent years, the Local Rule was changed given that Senior Judge Carmen D. Minora was assigned by the Court to hear all Discovery disputes.  Given that a sitting Senior Judge was in this position, there was no further need for the appeal mechanism because the original discovery decision was not handed down by a Discovery Master, but rather a sitting Senior Judge.

In this Rao case, the discovery issue was heard by Judge Minora's law clerk sitting at a Discovery Master.  One party party appealed that decision but Judge Nealon ruled that the Local Rules did not allow for the appeal as the Local Rules had abolished the special trial master system for discovery and the right of appeal.  As such, the court rule that, even though the underlying decision had been handed down in the manner it was, there was no longer a right of appeal under the Local Rules of Court.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK

Source: "Digest of Recent Decisions."  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (June 23, 2020).

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