Thursday, January 26, 2023

Lackawanna County Court Denies Motion to Bifurcate a Post-Koken Auto Accident Case

In the case of Ives v. McLain, No. 20-CV-2658 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Jan. 10, 2023 Gibbons, J.), Judge James A. Gibbons of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas denied a Motion to Bifurcate filed by a third party Defendant in a post-Koken automobile accident litigation.

The tortfeasor Defendant asserted that it would be unfair for him to proceed to trial with a UIM carrier insurance company sitting at the same table as a Co-Defendant. 

The tortfeasor also asserted that the interest of judicial economy would be furthered by bifurcation, particularly if the Plaintiff were to secure a verdict less than the liability limits, which would thereby preclude the need for any trial on the Plaintiff’s UIM claim.

The court reviewed the law under Pa. R.C.P. 213(b) and denied the motion. The court found that all counsel are equipped to outline their respective positions to the jury in such a way to avoid any confusion or prejudice regarding the issues presented in this combined trial.

The court additionally indicated that the lay persons on the jury would be properly instructed by the court on the law applicable to negligence claims as well as breach of contract claims at trial.

As such, the court denied the tortfeasor’s Motion to Bifurcate.

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

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