Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Lessons On Compelling Parties and Witnesses to Attend Trial (Note That There Are Different Rules to Follow)

In the case of Snyder v. North American Partners in Anesthesia, No. 19-CV-83 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Nov. 19, 2021 Nealon, J.), the court addressed a Pre-Trial Motion to Quash a Notice to Attend directed to witnesses to appear at a medical malpractice trial.

In his Order, Judge Nealon emphasized that the Defendant had served a Notice to Attend under Pa.R.C.P. 234.3, and not under Pa.R.C.P. 234.1, to the Plaintiff’s brother-in-law and the Plaintiff’s adult daughter to testify as witnesses at trial regarding issues related to the medical history of the Plaintiff and work issues.

The Plaintiffs objected and the issue came before the court.

Judge Nealon noted that the “Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure contain straightforward provisions governing the practice to be followed in compelling the attendance of parties and non-party witnesses to testify at trial.

The Notice to Attend addressed to the non-party witnesses in this case was presented by the defense under Pa. R.C.P. 234.3.  

Judge Nealon confirmed that a review of that rule confirmed that it only pertained to Notice to Attend requiring the trial attendance of “another party or an officer or managing agent thereof” for trial. As such, the court found that the defense was erroneously proceeding under the wrong Rule of Civil Procedure and attempting to compel the attendance of a non-party witness.

Judge Nealon noted that non-party witnesses can be compelled to attend trial under a “Subpoena to Attend and Testify” as provided by Pa. R.C.P. 234.1.

The court additionally noted that, when sending a Subpoena to Attend and Testify at trial to a non-party witness, the rule requires that the subpoena be served reasonably in advance of the date upon which attendance was required.

Based upon these errors, the court granted the Plaintiff’s Motion to Quash the Notice to Attend sent by the Defendants.

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

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