Monday, April 19, 2021

Court Excuses Delays Related to COVID-19 Pandemic With Respect to Completion of Service of Process

In the case of Pasquariello v. Manwiller, No. C-48-CV-2020-00607 (C.P. North. Co. Jan. 11, 2021 Murray, J.), the court denied a Defendant’s Preliminary Objections against the Plaintiff’s Complaint in which the Defendants asserted a lack of personal jurisdiction based upon untimely service.

The court rejected the Defendant’s contention that the Plaintiffs had stalled the legal machinery that they had set in motion by way of the filing of the lawsuit. Rather, the court found that the Plaintiffs had made a good faith effort to complete service.

The court emphasized that, when the Plaintiff filed a Writ of Summons, the Plaintiffs sent a copy of the Writ to the claims adjuster for the Defendant’s carrier and inquired whether the carrier would accept service in order to avoid expenses to the Defendants (and the Plaintiffs). This request was rejected by the carrier.

The court also noted that, around the time of this request, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the normal operations of the Sheriff’s Departments throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The record confirmed that the Plaintiff had reissued the Writ of Summons as soon as the local Sheriff’s Office reopened.

The court found that the delay in service was due to the pandemic and not because the Plaintiff had stalled the legal machinery that had been set in motion.

It was noted, however, that the Plaintiff had failed to complete service within the time allowed. As such, in its decision, the court required the Plaintiff to file a Praecipe to Reinstate the Writ and to serve the Defendants within thirty (30) days from the date of the reinstatement.

The court also addressed other Preliminary Objections in this case.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 23, 2021).

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