Monroe County PA Judge Overruled

Posted on: June 26th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A Monroe County PA personal injury claim versus an alleged negligent doctor was reinstated after a December 2009 Decision of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania overruled an Opinion of Judge Linda Miller.  An administrator of the Estate of Christopher Aranda filed a Writ of Summons versus 19 medical providers.  A Complaint was later filed containing averments against 15 of the original Defendants.  The personal injury attorney agreed to dismiss the other 4 named Defendants.

Since the Complaint was a professional liability lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure require a Certificate of Merit to be submitted against each Defendant within 60 days of the filing of the Complaint.  The Plaintiff’s personal injury attorney attached 14 Certificates of Merit to the Complaint itself.  As a result of an undetected clerical error, the remaining Certificate of Merit was not included.

The defense attorney chose not to alert Plaintiff’s counsel of the oversight.  Instead, he waited until the 61st day after the Complaint’s submission when he filed a Praecipe for Entry of Judgment of Non Pros.  The Prothonotary’s Office entered Judgment on his client’s behalf that same day.  Seven days later Plaintiff’s counsel filed a Petition to Open/Strike Judgment.  The Monroe County Trial Judge refused to permit the filing of the 15th Certificate of Merit and denied the Petition.  As a result, the Monroe County personal injury claim against the alleged negligent doctor was dismissed due to a technicality which had nothing to do with the merits of the case.

Fortunately, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recognized this miscarriage of justice.  All 3 judges who heard the appeal agreed that the p. i. case against the alleged negligent physician should be reinstated and the Appeals Court reversed Judge Miller’s decision.  Estate of Aranda v. Amrick, 987 A.2d 727 (Pa.Super. 2009)

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