Monday, August 21, 2023

COVID-19 Pandemic Time of Court Closures Is Not To Be Subtracted From Delay Damages Calculation

In the case of Lynch v. Ducasse, No. 3:18-CV-2044 (M.D. Pa. July 25, 2023 Mariani, J.), the court granted a Plaintiff’s Motion for Delay Damages in a civil litigation matter arising out of injuries the Plaintiff allegedly suffered from the Defendant possession and discharge of handgun.

After the return of a multi-million dollar jury verdict, the Plaintiff asserted that he was entitled to delay damages from September of 2019 through June of 2023.

The Defendant challenged the Plaintiff’s calculation and argued that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting suspension of proceedings in the court, the 472 days during which jury trials were “prohibited” during the pandemic had to be excluded from the delay damages calculation.

Judge Mariani found that the Defendant’s argument was not supported by the language of Pa. R.C.P. 238 or Pennsylvania case law.  In so ruling, Judge Mariani cited to the case of Getting v. Mark Sales & Leasing, 274 A.3d 1251 (Pa. Super. 2022) and other cases relying upon the Getting decision, in which the Pennsylvania state courts have repeatedly ruled that the time of court closures during the COVID-19 pandemic are not to be excluded from the delay damages calculation.

The rationale, according to the Getting decision, is that the delay damages Rule is not just about time but about making a Plaintiff whole relative to the injuries and damages sustained.     

As such, the court granted in this Lynch case granted the Plaintiff’s Motion for Delay Damages.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 8, 2023).

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