Thursday, December 7, 2023

Superior Court Rules that It Can Review A Trial Court's Decision On a MSJ Even After a Jury Verdict

In the case of Coryell v. Morris, No. 1977 EDA 2021 (Pa. Super. Nov. 8, 2023 Bowes, J., King, J., and Pellegrini, J.) (Op. by Pellegrini, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed the issue of whether an appellate court may review the propriety of a trial court’s denial of a Motion for Summary Judgment even after the case then proceeded to trial and a jury entered a verdict in favor of a Plaintiff in a personal injury case. The Superior court answered that question, in a split decision, in the affirmative.

This case arose out of a motor vehicle accident that involved a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver.

Before the trial, Domino’s moved for summary judgment, arguing that it could not be held vicariously liable because, under its franchise agreement, its relationship with the franchisee was that of an independent contractor/contractee rather than master-servant relationship.

The trial court had found that there were genuine issues of material fact involved on the question presented and, therefore, denied Domino’s Motion for Summary Judgment. 

Thereafter, the case went to trial and a jury found Domino’s vicariously liable and awarded damages. 

On appeal, the Superior Court ruled that it had the authority to review a trial court’s decision on a pre-trial Motion for Summary Judgment even after the case had proceeded to trial and a jury entered a verdict.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the record before it and concluded that the franchise agreement did not give Domino’s day-to-day control over the franchisee and that, under these circumstances, the Superior Court agreed with Domino’s that it should have been granted summary judgment as there was no valid claim of vicarious liability.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  Judge Bowes Dissenting Opinion can be viewed HERE.

Source: Article -- “Pa. Appeals Court Clears Domino’s From Paying $2.3M Delivery Driver Crash Verdict” By: Aleeza Furman Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 10, 2023).

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