Monday, August 22, 2022

Monroe County Premises Liability Case Dismissed For Lack of Timely Proper Service of Original Process

In the case of Correa v. Bridge St. Apts., No. 311-CV-2021 (C.P. Monroe Co. June 15, 2022 Zulick, J.), the court dismissed a premises liability lawsuit due to the Plaintiff’s failure to serve original process in a timely fashion.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff allegedly fell on property owned by the Defendant owner about January 21, 2019.

Two (2) years later, and four (4) days before the expiration of the statute of limitations, the Plaintiff filed a Writ of Summons on January 15, 2021.

Plaintiff’s counsel alleged that the Writ had been served by regular mail. However, the court noted that there is no indication on the docket that the Defendants received the Writ or any other evidence to show that the Defendants received notice of the lawsuit.

On October 21, 2021, the court took judicial notice that the Writ had not been promptly served and issued an Order directing the Plaintiff to file a Motion for Special Service in the event that service was otherwise not completed within 90 days of that Order.

Thereafter, the Plaintiff filed a Praecipe to Reissue the Writ of Summons on December 15, 2021 and the Sheriff filed an Affidavit of Service on December 20, 2021 indicating that the Defendants were served on December 16, 2021.

The Defendants filed an Objection asserting that the Plaintiff did not promptly serve the Complaint and that, therefore, the Complaint should be dismissed.

Judge Arthur L. Zulick
Monroe County

Reviewing the record, Judge Arthur L. Zulick noted that service of process was not effectuated for almost eleven (11) months after the statute of limitations had run.

The court additionally noted that there was never an attempt to serve the Complaint in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure and there was no attempt by the Plaintiff to ensure that the method of service was correct. More specifically, the court noted that, under Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure 400(a), original service by mail for an in-state Defendant was not authorized.

The court emphasized that the issue was that service was not effectuated until after the statute of limitations had already expired. The court additionally emphasized that the Plaintiff’s eleven (11) month delay demonstrated a lack of any good faith effort by the Plaintiff to properly complete service.

As such, the court granted the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections and dismissed the Complaint in its entirety.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 16, 2022).

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