It’s Not Over Until It’s Over After a PA Trial

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court recently affirmed the grant of a new trial to a plaintiff whom the jury found to be at fault in the case.  The plaintiff, Gerald Remmert, was injured in a motor vehicle accident when defendant William J. Diaz’s pickup truck collided with his vehicle in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. The jury’s finding that Remmert was 51 percent negligent for the incident and Diaz 49 percent negligent barred Remmert from all recovery. Remmert untimely appealed the decision and requested, among other things, a new trial. His request was granted and ultimately upheld by the Superior Court.

In affirming the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas decision to grant the plaintiff’s request for a new trial, the Superior Court rejected Diaz’s argument that the jury’s verdict was sufficiently supported by the evidence. The Superior Court reasoned that the testimony provided by the parties, as well as expert witness and accident reconstructionist Michael Berkovitz, did not support a finding that Remmert acted more negligently than Diaz.

The Superior Court was also willing to overlook the fact that Remmert’s request for a new trial was entered after the 30 day time limit specified in Rule 227.4 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.  Despite the lack of a written agreement between the parties, the Superior Court permitted Remmert’s untimely request for a new trial based on an off-the-record sidebar discussion in which the parties agreed to extend the 30 day filing deadline.

Thanks to Sheri Flannery for her contribution to this post.  Please write to Mike Bono for more information.