Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Trial Court Requests a Reversal of its own Decision on Motion for Delay Damages

In the case of Sewell v. Riordon Materials Corp., Nov. Term 2018, No. 01642 (C.P. Phila. Co. Aug. 7, 2023 Kennedy, J.), the trial court issued a Rule 1925 Opinion addressing issues of delay damages following a motor vehicle accident trial.

To its credit in this case, the trial court issued a Rule 1925 Opinion confirming that it had erred in originally denying the Plaintiff’s Motion for Delay Damages and that, after a review, it was the opinion of the trial court that the proper decision would have been to have granted the motion.

It is noted that the proper rule number for the delay damages rule is Pa. R.C.P. 238.

In any event, the trial court noted that, under subsection (b) of the applicable rule, there are two (2) instances where time for calculating delay damages should be excluded, that being where a Defendant made a written offer that has complied with the requirements of the rule and where the Plaintiff caused the delay of the trial.

Here, the trial court indicated that it had erred in denying the Plaintiff’s Motion for Delay Damages because neither of the exceptions applied.

Notably, the court noted that, when the defense counsel issued the settlement offers, neither of the emails presenting the offers contained the express clause required by the delay damages rule confirming that the offers would continue for at least ninety (90) days or until the commencement of trial.

The trial court also noted that, given that the jury’s award exceeded the settlement offer of the Defendant by more than 125%, that exception did not apply as well.

With regards to allegations by the defense that the Plaintiff caused the delay of the trial by, in part, relying upon arguments relative to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial court noted that the appellate courts of Pennsylvania have held that, although the COVID-19 pandemic obviously impacted the case and prolonged the case due to a judicial emergency, such delays in that regard are not to be held against the Plaintiff relative to a claim or Motion for Delay Damages.

The court also rejected the defense attempt to blame some of the delays on the request by the Plaintiff’s attorney for a new trial date due to conflicts. The court rejected this argument and noted that the scheduling of a trial is set by the court regardless of any such claims of conflicts and that a movement of the trial in that regard would not be held against the Plaintiff.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 29, 2023).

Source of image:  Photo by John Guccione on

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