Monday, November 29, 2021

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Addresses Parameters of Coordinate Jurisdiction Rule



In the case of Rellick-Smith v. Rellick, No. 23 WAP 2020 (Pa. Oct. 20, 2021), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed issues regarding the coordinate jurisdiction rule in terms of judges of the same jurisdiction overruling the decision of another judge from the same jurisdiction.

According to the Opinion, at the trial court level, one judge had first ruled that a defendant had waived a statute of limitations defense by failing to plead it, and a second trial court judge from the same court later allowed that defendant to amend the Answer and New Matter to plead the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense.    

At the Pennsylvania Supreme Court level, the Court in this decision found that a second judge’s Order allowing the amendment to a first judge’s Order necessarily conflicted with the first Order. The Supreme Court also found that the second decision by the second judge was actually precluded by the wording of the first Order that had been entered.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court additionally confirmed that the coordinate jurisdiction rule could not be avoided by any claims that the first Order was erroneous or that there had been some intervening change in the law.

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

To view Justice Donohue's Concurring Opinion, please click HERE.

To view Chief Justice Baer's Dissenting Opinion, please click HERE.

To view Justice Mundy's Dissenting Opinion, please click HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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