Thursday, November 3, 2022

OPEN THE VAULT: Court Allows Discovery of Bank Records of Defendant in Punitive Damages Case

In the case of Williams v. Glenmaura Senior Living at Montage, LLC, No. 21-CV-1494 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Oct. 14, 2022 Nealon, J.), the court addressed discovery motions relative to the scope of permissible discovery of financial assets of a Defendant relative to a punitive damages claim in a personal injury case.

According to the Opinion, this case involved a professional liability action alleging reckless and negligence relative to alleged acts and/or omissions by the Defendants at a senior living facility which allegedly caused the death of the Plaintiff’s decedent.

After the Defendant’s separate Motion for Summary Judgment on the punitive damages claims was denied, the Plaintiff sought additional discovery on the Defendant’s financial assets over and above the tax returns that the Defendant had previously produced. In part, the Plaintiff was seeking to gather bank records in an effort to discover more detailed information on the financial worth of the Defendant.

Judge Nealon overruled the defense objections to the discovery requests and found that the Plaintiff was entitled to discover the most accurate and detailed financial documentation and information that reflects the exact amount by which the Defendant’s assets exceeded its liabilities. 

The court noted that the tax records and balance sheets previously produced by the Defendant may not fully demonstrate the Defendant’s net worth with sufficient precision and completeness.

The court therefore allowed the Plaintiff to gather the relevant bank records since a borrower seeking financing from a bank is likely to portray its financial position in a positive light in an effort to secure the requested funding. The court found that the Defendant’s representations of its assets to the bank would likely assist in this regard.

As such, the court ruled that the Defendant had not satisfied its burden of demonstrating that the requested materials were not discoverable under the liberal discovery allowed in Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. 

Accordingly, the court granted the Plaintiff’s Motion to Strike the Defendant’s Objections to the subpoenas that were addressed to the Defendant’s bank. However, the court limited the subpoenas to only require the production of records within the past three (3) years. The court additionally required the execution of a confidentiality agreement between the parties restricting the dissemination of the materials obtained.

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

Source of image:  Photo by Brock Wegner from

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