Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Court Rules That Party Argue Motion For Summary Judgment Is Premature Where Ample Time For Discovery Had Passed


In the case of Connell v. Zheng, No. 1696 of 2017 G.D. (C.P. Fay. Co. Aug. 15, 2022 Cordaro, J.), the court addressed a summary judgment motion in a food poisoning case filed against a Chinese restaurant.

According to the Opinion, the case involved the death of the Plaintiff’s decedent from complications of an infection caused by a bacteria typically found in shell fish that can be transmitted to humans through consumption of raw or undercooked shell fish. The Plaintiff was suing a Chinese restaurant and others involved for the injuries claimed.

The Motion for Summary Judgment at issue in this case was filed by an Additional Defendant relative to claims asserted by an original Defendant in a Joinder Complaint.

Of note, the original Defendants opposed the motion, in part, on the basis that discovery was still ongoing and that the Motion for Summary Judgment was, therefore, premature.

The court noted that, while an adverse party must be given adequate time to develop the case and that a Motion for Summary Judgment will be found to be premature if filed before the adverse party has completed discovery relevant to the motion in question, “the discovery period cannot extend indefinitely; parties must conduct discovery in a timely way and proceed with due diligence.”  See Op. at XI. [citations omitted].

Referring to the local rules of court, the judge in this matter ruled that ample time had been provided for the completion of relevant discovery. It was also noted that no party had moved for any different deadlines for the completion of discovery. It was additionally indicated by the court that the party opposing the Motion for Summary Judgment had not moved to compel any discovery.

As such, the court found that the parties did have adequate time to prepare and pursue relevant discovery. As such, the court deemed that discovery was complete relative to the motion in question.

In the end, the court found that the Defendants had not brought forward any evidence to support the facts essential to their cause of action against the Additional Defendants. As such, the court entered summary judgment in favor of the Additional Defendant.

Also notable in this decision is the court’s indication that non-binding case law can certainly be considered for its persuasive value.

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

Source: “Case Summaries.” By Timothy L. Clawges PBA News (December 2022).

Source of image:  Photo by Drew Taylor on www.pexels.com.

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