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Late Joinder No Reason to Dismiss (PA)

February 15, 2017

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In Pennsylvania, joinder of additional defendants to a lawsuit is governed by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2252.  A Pennsylvania trial court rejected an  additional defendant’s objections joinder on the grounds that it was untimely in <a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Lemoncelli-Case.pdf">Lemoncelli v. Newell Rubbermaid, Inc.</a>
<em>Lemoncelli </em>involved a products liability claim for a defective propane cylinder.  The plaintiff allegedly sustained second-degree burns to his lower extremities.  As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sued Newell Rubbermaid as the manufacturer and seller of the propane cylinder.  Plaintiff and Newell’s initial discovery revealed, however, that a valve manufactured by Schrader-Bridgeport, Inc. may have been the cause of the product’s malfunction.
As a result of this revelation, Newell, with the cooperation and assistance of Schrader, conducted various tests on the valve in an effort to re-create the plaintiff’s accident.  After the testing procedures, on December 3, 2015, Newell learned of the likelihood that Schrader’s valve did, in fact, malfunction and cause the accident.
Nearly six months after the testing, Newell filed a motion for leave to join Schrader to the lawsuit as an additional defendant.  Newell’s motion was granted, and it filed its joinder complaint.  Schrader objected to the joinder complaint, arguing (1) it was untimely filed and Newell did not provide a “reasonable justification or excuse” for the untimely filing of the joinder; and (2) it would be prejudiced by the untimely joinder.
First, the court outright rejected Schrader’s first argument regarding the lack of “reasonable justification or excuse” because the plaintiff did not oppose the joinder and this argument is reserved exclusively for plaintiffs under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.  In support of Schrader’s second argument, Schrader merely posited that it would be prejudiced by the joinder because of its inability to conduct a prompt post-accident investigation.  The court, however, noted that discovery was still ongoing and the initial testing that was done on the valve was done in the presence of Schrader.  As such, the court concluded that Schrader did not provide any evidence of actual, real prejudice to Schrader as a result of being joined to the lawsuit.  Accordingly, the court rejected Schrader’s objections to the joinder complaint.
Thanks to Erin Connolly for her contribution.
For more information, contact Denise Fontana Ricci at <a href="mailto:dricci@wcmlaw.com"><u>dricci@wcmlaw.com</u></a>.

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