Judges Opinions Public Notices, — September 8, 2021 8:55 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, September 8, 2021

Volume 59, No. 6

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

FICTITIOUS NAMES

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Paul Pear, et al., v. Danny Fantom, et al.

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Letters Testamentary or of Administration have been granted in the following estates. All persons indebted to the said estate are required to make payment, and those having claims or demands to present the same without delay to the administrators or executors named.

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF JOHN O. MOSCHELLA, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors on July 30, 2021.

 

John J. Moschella, Co-Executor

Lydia M. Luca, Co-Executor

 

Craig A. Hatch, Esquire

Halbruner, Hatch & Guise, LLP

2109 Market Street

Camp Hill, PA 17011

 

ESTATE OF LORETTA K. SCHADE, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Robert R. Schade, Executor

 

Nancy S. Hearne, Esquire

Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

650 College Rd. East, Ste. 4000,

Princeton, NJ 08540

 

ESTATE OF MIRIAM D. ENCK, a/k/a MIRIAM ENCK PROGNER, late of Mount Gretna Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Counsel Trust Company, Executor

 

Randy R. Moyer, Esquire

Barley Snyder LLP

126 East King Street

Lancaster, PA 17602

 

ESTATE OF BRUCE F. RAMBLER, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County,

Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Donna O’Block, Executrix

 

Richard B. Druby, Esquire

1135 East Chocolate Avenue, Suite 300

Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033

 

ESTATE OF STEVEN L. BOMBERGER, a/k/a STEVE L. BOMBERGER, late of North Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Michael S. Bomberger, Executor

 

Charles A. Ritchie, Jr., Esquire

Feather and Feather, P.C.

22 West Main Street

Annville, PA 17003

ATTORNEY

 

ESTATE OF MARSHALL A. REED, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon

County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Marsha A. Reed, Executrix

 

Jon F. Arnold, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF JOYCE S. SWOPE, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased June 22, 2021. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Jeremy Stahl, Executor

12 E. Bethany Road

Newmanstown, PA 17073

 

John A. Feichtel, Esquire

Mette, Evans & Woodside

3401 N. Front Street

P.O. Box 5950

Harrisburg, PA 17110-0950

(717) 232-5000

 

ESTATE OF NANCY K. SCHREIBER, late of West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Henry D. Schreiber, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF LLOYD THOMAS BEERS, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased July 8, 2021. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator on August 19, 2021.

 

Debra A. Beers, Administrator

Palmyra, PA

 

Jacqueline A. Kelly, Esquire

JSDC Law Offices

11 E. Chocolate Avenue

Suite 300

Hershey, PA 17033

717-533-3280

 

ESTATE OF PATRICIA ANN NESTICO, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon

County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Kathleen M. Giovanniello, Executrix

 

Dominic V. Giovanniello, Esquire

Nestico Druby, P.C.

1135 East Chocolate Avenue

Suite 300

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF RICHARD W. HOLLINGER, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Executor

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF BERTHA CARBAUGH, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Darrell F. Baldwin, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF BRENDA KAY FASOLD a/k/a BRENDA K. FASOLD, late of Bethel Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Dennis Fisher

559 Kutztown Road

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue,

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF ARLENE L. WALTERS, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Donald T. Walters, Jr., Executor

232 Waterford Way

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF MICHAEL L. STEINER, a/k/a MICHAEL LEE STEINER, late of East Hanover Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Andrew J. Hershey, Administrator

 

Charles A. Ritchie, Jr., Esquire

Feather and Feather, P.C.

22 West Main Street

Annville, PA 17003

ATTORNEY

 

ESTATE OF JOANNE S. HANSEN, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executrixes.

 

Lori J. Grandi, Co-Executrix

 

Alisen M. Cronkrite, Co-Executrix

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF MERVIN M. WALMER, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Diane L. Keefer, Executrix

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF CHARLES H. HEILMAN a/k/a CHARLES H. HEILMAN, SR., late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executrixes.

 

Cheryl L. Stewart, Co-Executrix

 

Gail L. Garrett, Co-Executrix

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF FRANKLIN ARTHUR WETZEL, JR., late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Joshua A. Wetzel, Administrator

2064 Mile Hill Road

Sunbury, PA 17801

 

Joel M. Wiest, Esquire

Wiest, Wiest Benner & Rice, LLC

5 North Second Street

Sunbury, PA 17801

570-286-4022

 

ESTATE OF EVE MANBECK, late of Fredericksburg, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Alletta Schadler, Executrix

 

John M. Zimmerman, Esquire

Zimmerman Law Office

466 Jonestown Road

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

ESTATE OF CAROL E. WOLFE, late of Fredericksburg, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Gary L. Wolfe, Executor

 

John M. Zimmerman, Esquire

Zimmerman Law Office

466 Jonestown Road

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

ESTATE OF HAROLD A. BENDER, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Kevin S. Bender, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF JOHN H. GIBSON, JR., late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased July 21, 2021. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Lisa E. Scurci, Executor

 

Morgan Cassel, Esquire

624 North Front Street

Wormleysburg, PA 17043

Attorney

 

ESTATE OF DONNA K. WOLFER, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Ursula M. Wolfer, Administratrix

25 Limestone Lane

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Joseph M. Farrell, Esquire

201/203 South Railroad Street

P.O. Box 113

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF MARCELINE C. WARNER, late of Mill Creek Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Robert J. Warner, Executor

 

Heidi B. Masano, Esquire

Masano ♦ Bradley

1100 Berkshire Boulevard, Suite 201

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

ESTATE OF ELEANOR M. BAIR, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Curtis L. Martin, Executor

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

Attorney

 

FICTITIOUS NAMES

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name was filed with the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 24, 2021, pursuant to the provisions of the Business Corporation Law of the Commonwealth of

Pennsylvania, Act of December 21, 1988.

 

Legion 9 Brands, LLC., will be trading as/doing business as:

SuperHYPE Co.

 

Anthony Scicchitano, VP & General Counsel

DAS Companies, Inc.

724 Lawn Road, Palmyra PA 17078

 

 

 

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name was filed with the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 24, 2021, pursuant to the provisions of the Business Corporation Law of the Commonwealth of

Pennsylvania, Act of December 21, 1988.

 

Legion 9 Brands, LLC., will be trading as/doing business as:

Easter Island Mercantile

 

Anthony Scicchitano, VP & General Counsel

DAS Companies, Inc.

724 Lawn Road, Palmyra PA 17078

 

 

 

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that an Application for Registration of Fictitious Name was filed with the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 30, 2021, pursuant to the provisions of the Business Corporation Law of the Commonwealth of

Pennsylvania, Act of December 21, 1988.

 

DAS Companies, Inc., will be trading as/doing business as:

12 Volt Solutions & Distribution Co.

 

Anthony Scicchitano, VP & General Counsel

DAS Companies, Inc.

724 Lawn Road, Palmyra PA 17078

 

 

 

 

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Department of State for PA Epoxy Inc., a business corporation incorporated under the Business Corporation Law of 1988.

 

Richard Raiders, Esquire

Raiders Law PC

1150 Chestnut Street

Lebanon PA 17042

 

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Department of State for Epoxy Depot Inc., a business corporation incorporated under the Business Corporation Law of 1988.

 

Richard Raiders, Esquire

Raiders Law PC

1150 Chestnut Street

Lebanon PA 17042

 

 

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Department of State for Epoxy Depot Harrisburg Inc., a business corporation incorporated under the Business Corporation Law of 1988.

 

Richard Raiders, Esquire

Raiders Law PC

1150 Chestnut Street

Lebanon PA 17042

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUDGES OPINION

 

Paul Pear, et al., v. Danny Fantom, et al.

 

Civil Action-Equity-Pile Up Motor Vehicle Accident-Mass Tort Litigation-Motion to Add Additional Party-Expiration of the Statute of Limitations-Discovery Rule-Rule of Active Concealment

 

This litigation involves a sixty-four (64) vehicle pile up motor vehicle accident on Interstate 78 during a snow squall that occurred on February 13, 2016.  While the lengthy police report did not contain the name of Leonid Samsonenko (“Samsonenko”), it was learned during discovery that Samsonenko operated a Federal Express tractor trailer truck under the employment of an independent trucking company that may have been involved in the accident.  Plaintiff Paul Pear sought to join Samsonenko as a party to the litigation on November 29, 2019, well after the expiration of the statute of limitations.  Federal Express and Shota Manvelidze, a driver of a tractor trailer truck owned by Federal Express that also was involved in the accident and before whose truck Samsonenko was driving at the time of the accident, opposed the Motion for Leave to Amend to add Samsonenko as a party because of the expiration of the statute of limitations.

 

  1. Title 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2) provides that a two (2) year statute of limitations applies to motor vehicle accidents.

 

  1. A plaintiff may not add a new defendant after the applicable statute of limitations has expired.

 

  1. Lack of knowledge, mistake or understanding do not toll the running of the statute of limitations.

 

  1. The Discovery Rule, which historically has not been applied in motor vehicle accident cases, and the Rule of Active Concealment, can serve to excuse a tardy filing after the statute of limitations has expired.

 

  1. The purpose of the Discovery Rule is to ensure that a person who reasonably is unaware of an injury that is not immediately ascertainable has essentially the same rights as those who suffer an immediately ascertainable injury.

 

  1. The statute of limitations will be tolled when a party actively conceals the identity of a potentially culpable individual or entity.

 

  1. A defendant must commit some affirmative independent act of concealment upon which a plaintiff justifiably relied.

 

  1. If the active conduct of a party obscures the identity of a potentially culpable party, that is sufficient to toll the statute of limitations even if there is no fraudulent intent to deceive on the part of the party.

 

  1. The issue of active concealment must be evaluated from the perspective of the plaintiff given the real world exigencies that governed his or her situation.

 

  1. Where the filing of a Motion to Coordinate by Federal Express delayed the availability of information about the existence and involvement of Samsonenko, Sansonenko moved his vehicle away from the remaining vehicles in the accident prior to the arrival of police, Samsonenko could have done more to advise police of the location of his vehicle and its actions at the time of the accident, there is no evidence that Federal Express affirmatively advised any other party that Samsonenko drove a vehicle that may have been involved in the accident and it was not until October 19, 2018 after the expiration of the statute of limitations that Federal Express disclosed that Samsonenko was likely to have information about the accident and November 30, 2018 that Federal Express disclosed that Samsonenko was driving ahead of Shota Manvelidze on the date of the accident, Plaintiff Paul Pear will be permitted to join Samsonenko as an additional party and to add allegations against Federal Express based upon Samsonenko’s conduct.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. 2017-00059, Opinion by Bradford H. Charles, Judge, September 25, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL ACTION – LAW

 

 

Paul Pear, et al                                                                    :  NO. 2017-00059

            Plaintiff                                                                     :

                                                                                                :

  1. :

                                                                                                :

Danny Fantom, et al                                                          :

            Defendants                                                  :

                                                                                                 

O R D E R

 

AND NOW, this 25th day of September, 2020, in accordance with the attached Opinion, the Order of this Court is as follows:

  1. Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend the Complaint to add Leonid Samsonenko as an additional party is GRANTED.
  2. Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend the Complaint to add allegations against Fed-Ex pertaining to conduct of Leonid Samsonenko is GRANTED.
  3. Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is to be filed within thirty (30) days from today’s date.

 

BY THE COURT:

 

 

______________________,J.

BRADFORD H. CHARLES

 

 

BHC/pmd

 

cc:       Court Administration

All counsel      by email

All Judges       by email

President Judge John C. Tylwalk

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF

LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL ACTION – LAW

 

Paul Pear, et al                                                                      :  NO. 2017-00059

            Plaintiff                                                                     :

                                                                                                :

  1. :

                                                                                                :

Danny Fantom, et al                                                 :

            Defendants                                                     :

                                                                                                 

 

CERTIFICATION OF SERVICE

I certify that a true and correct copy of the above-referenced Order was sent via email to the persons listed below on the date indicated:

       
M. Lee Albright Esquire malbright@geico.com
Kevin Allen Esquire kevin@crystleallen.com
Matthew Allen Esquire matthew.allen@courts.phila.gov
Jamie Anzalone Esquire Jamie.Anzalone@anzalonelaw.com
Zachary Ballard Esquire zballard@srstlaw.com
Stephen Baratta Judge NJones@Northamptoncounty.org
Michael Barrasse Judge mbarrasse@gmail.com
William Barrett Esquire barretw@nationwide.com
Alan S. Battisti Esquire abattisti@kingspry.com
Jenna Mintzer Benton Esquire jbenton@defensecounsel.com
Mitchell Berger Esquire berger@ryanbrown.com
Seth Black Esquire sblack@summersmcdonnell.com
Joseph Bonfig Esquire jrbonfig@zarwin.com
Jessica Bowman Esquire jbowman@themayersfirm.com
Thomas Bracaglia Esquire tpbracaglia@mdwcg.com
Gary Brascetta Esquire GBrascetta@lowenthalabrams.com
Josh Brick Esquire Brick@LitchfieldCavo.com
Joseph Swist Esquire jswist@best-lawyers.com
Joanna Buchanico Esquire jdbuchanico@mdwcg.com
Patricia Burns Horn Esquire pattihorn@burnshorn.com
Nathan Carter Esquire ncarter@jamesclarklaw.net
Cynthia Certo Esquire certo@ryanbrown.com
Ed Ciarimboli Esquire ejc@fclawpc.com
Elyse Cohen Esquire encohen@mdwcg.com
Samuel Cohen Esquire scohen@grossmcginley.com
Christopher Conner Judge Judge_Christopher_C._Conner@pamd.uscourts.gov
Adrian Cousens Esquire acousens@grossmcginley.com
Daniel Cummins Esquire dancummins@CumminsLaw.net
Kathleen Dapper Esquire kpdapper@burnswhite.com
Robert Dapper Esquire redapper@burnswhite.com
Bryson Datt, Jr. Esquire bfdatt@burnswhite.com
James DeCinti Esquire jdecinti@pionlaw.com
Lisa DiBernardo Esquire lisa@flandilaw.com
Dawn Doherty Esquire ddoherty@moodklaw.com
Glenn Dolfi Esquire gddmfd@verizon.net
Matthew Dolfi Esquire mdolfi@dolfilawpc.com
Donald Dorer Esquire dorerd@nationwide.com
George Eager Esquire geagerw@esqslaw.com
Kathleen Eager Esquire keager@esqslaw.com
Susan Engle Esquire sengle@defensecounsel.com
June Essis Esquire jessis@wglaw.com
Patrick Fitzgerald Esquire Patrick.Fitzgerald@KlineSpecter.com
Charles Fonzone Esquire cfonzone@grossmcginley.com
Kenneth Fromson Esquire kfromson@lawampm.com
Anthony Gabriel Esquire agabriel@margolisedelstein.com
Matthew Garson Esquire mgarson@lavin-law.com
Francis Gartner Esquire fgartner@travelers.com
Mark Giannotti Esquire Mgiannotti@moodklaw.com
John Giunta Esquire jgiunta@tthlaw.com
Paul Grego Esquire pgrego@postschell.com
Gary Gremminger Esquire gremmingerg@ggmfirm.com
E. Patrick Heffron Esquire pheffron@chartwelllaw.com
Karl Hildabrand Esquire khildabrand@laverylaw.com
Eric Holmes Esquire Eholmes@meyner.com
Joseph Hudock, Jr. Esquire jhudock@summersmcdonnell.com
Bryon Kaster Esquire bkaster@dmclaw.com
Rolf Kroll Esquire rkroll@margolisedelstein.com
Daniel Leister Esquire Dan.leister@lewisbrisbois.com
Christine Line Esquire cline@dmclaw.com
Karl Longenbach Esquire karl.longenbach1@gmail.com
William Longo Esquire wlongo@margolisedelstein.com
David Lutz Esquire lutz@hhrlaw.com
Rebecca Lyttle Esquire rlyttle@kopelaw.com
Wade Manley Esquire wmanley@johnsonduffie.com
Thomas Martin Esquire tmartin@feldmanshepherd.com
Joseph B. Mayers Esquire jmayers@themayersfirm.com
Harry McGrath, Jr. Esquire hmcgrath@fclawpc.com
Joe McHale Esquire jmchale@travelers.com
Edward McKarski Esquire info@mckarski-law.com
Slade McLaughlin Esquire shm@best-lawyers.com
Myer Messinger Esquire mmessinger@fclawpc.com
Claire Milinski Esquire cmmilinski@burnswhite.com
Andrew Moore Esquire amoore@moore4law.com
Robert Munley III Esquire bobm@munley.com
Joseph Murphy Esquire murphy@bbs-law.com
Parick Murphy Esquire pmurphy@bbclawfirm.com
Katie Nealon Esquire knealon@munley.com
Arnold New Judge Arnold.New@courts.phila.gov
Nicolas Ortiz Esquire nlo@wlbdeflaw.com
John Pion Esquire jpion@pionlaw.com
Christina Pitchford Esquire cpitchford@ccplegal.com
Darren Powell Esquire dpowell@johnsonduffie.com
Robert Prignoli Esquire prignoli@aol.com
Frank Procyk Esquire fprocyk@knafo.com
Joseph Pulcini Esquire jpulcini@tthlaw.com
Glenn Ricketti Esquire gricketti@margolisedelstein.com
Brett Riegel Esquire brett@armlawyers.com
Shelley Robins-New Judge Shelley.New@courts.phila.gov
Theodore Schaer Esquire tmschaer@zarwin.com
Timothy Schipske Esquire tschipske@srstlaw.com
Edward Shaughnessy Esquire office@edshau.com
Matthew Shusterman Esquire mshusterman@billetlaw.com
Matthew Siegel Esquire msiegel@cozen.com
Bryan J Smith Esquire bjs@dellmoser.com
Steven Snyder Esquire ssnyder@c-law.com
John Statler Esquire johnstatler@johnsonduffie.com
Stephen Summers Esquire ssummers@summersmcdonnell.com
Joseph Swist Esquire JSwist@best-lawyers.com
Andrew VanWagner Esquire avanwagner@lundylaw.com
Thomas Vaughan Esquire tgvaughan@mdwcg.com
James Waldenberger Esquire jim.waldenberger@klinespecter.com
Andre Webb Esquire webba@ggmfirm.com
Robert Weiner Esquire rweineresq1@verizon.net
Ezra Wohlgelernter Esquire ezra@feldmanshepherd.com
Danyelle Yondura Esquire dyondura@moore4law.com

 

September 25, 2020                              By:_____________________________

Patricia M. Daubert, Office of the

Honorable Bradford H. Charles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL ACTION – LAW

 

Paul Pear, et al                                                                    :  NO. 2017-00059

            Plaintiff                                                                     :

                                                                                                :

  1. :

                                                                                                :

Danny Fantom, et al                                                          :

            Defendants                                                  :

                                                                                                 

                       

APPEARANCES:

 

Matthew Dolfi, Esquire                                                       For Plaintiff

 

Robert Dapper, Esquire                                                       For Defendants

Kathleen Dapper, Esquire                                                   Fed-Ex, Shota

Claire Milinski, Esquire                                                       Manvelidze

 

 

 

 

OPINION BY CHARLES, J., September 25, 2020

 

This case is unprecedented in the annals of Lebanon County jurisprudence.  During a snow squall that occurred on February 13, 2016, sixty-four (64) vehicles became involved in a pile-up accident on Interstate 78 in northern Lebanon County.  Twenty-five (25) lawsuits were filed as a result of the pile-up accident.  These lawsuits were coordinated within Lebanon County for purposes of discovery.

The three-thousand five-hundred (3,500) page police report pertaining to this accident did not contain the name of LEONID Samsonenko (hereafter LEONID). However, during discovery, the parties learned that LEONID operated a Volvo tractor trailer truck that may or may not have been involved in the accident.  On November 29, 2019, well-after the running of the statute of limitations, Plaintiff Paul Pear sought to join LEONID as a party to the above-referenced litigation.  The Defendants have objected based upon the untimeliness of the joinder.  Today, we are called upon to decide whether there are unique extenuating circumstances sufficient to justify a tardy joinder.

 

 

  1. FACTS and PROCEDURAL HISTORY

As noted above, the pile-up accident on Interstate 78 occurred on February 13, 2016.  Sixty-four (64) vehicles were known to have been involved in the pile-up accident.  Early on in the litigation process, this Court created a chart depicting the resting places of the vehicles known to have been involved in accident.  That chart has been employed by the parties to this case in a wide variety of contexts.  It is set forth below:

 

To the best of this Court’s knowledge, twenty-five (25) lawsuits were initiated in seven (7) jurisdictions.  Over one-hundred (100) lawyers are now involved in litigation stemming from the February 13, 2016 accident.

On August 27, 2017, several Defendants who were sued in multiple cases filed a Motion to Coordinate all litigation in Lebanon County pursuant to Pa.R.C.P.213.1.  This Court entered a stay of all State cases pending resolution of the Motion to Coordinate.  A hearing was scheduled for February 21, 2018.  The hearing morphed into an oral argument.  After extensive discussion, almost all parties agreed that discovery should be coordinated within Lebanon County and a final decision regarding coordination for trial should be deferred.  On February 21, 2018, this Court entered an Order coordinating all State Court dockets for purposes of discovery.  The above-referenced docket was included within the ambit of this Order[1].

Following our discovery coordination order, the parties embarked upon written and oral discovery.  This Court is not cognizant of everything that the parties have accomplished during discovery.  However, we know that uniform interrogatories were crafted that applied to trucking companies, operators of tractor-trailer trucks and operators of passenger vehicles.  We also know that a deposition spanning three (3) days was conducted with Corporal Christopher Graf, the chief investigator of this accident.  Although we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays, discovery is still progressing.  According to counsel, the parties are currently in the “middle” of the discovery process.

During the course of discovery, LEONID’s name arose.  It was learned that LEONID operated a Federal Express (hereafter Fed-Ex) tractor-trailer truck under the employment of an independent trucking company.  According to the parties, Fed-Ex first notified Plaintiff of LEONID’s name on November 30, 2018.

Plaintiff requested LEONID’s deposition in January of 2019. It was postponed by counsel for Fed-Ex.  Another deposition was scheduled.  It was also postponed. In part because of the pandemic, the deposition still has not occurred.  However, the operator of an SUV by the name of Jonathan Seaver described coming into contact with a white Volvo Fed-Ex truck that ended up in the median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-78.  LEONID was apparently the operator of the white Volvo tractor-trailer that came to rest within the median.  Another Fed-Ex truck involved in this accident, operated by Shota Manvelidze, came to rest at a very different location.

On March 6, 2019, Plaintiff served interrogatories upon Fed-Ex in which Plaintiff asked Fed-Ex to identify all tractor-trailer trucks operating under its auspices that were on I-78 on February 13, 2016 at or near the time of the 64-vehicle pile-up.  Fed-Ex responded by identifying two trucks.  One was operated by Shota Manvelidze and the other was operated by LEONID.

On November 29, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint in order to add LEONID as a defendant.  Fed-Ex and Shota Manvelidze have opposed the Motion for Leave to Amend because the statute of limitations had expired well before the Motion for Leave to Amend was filed.

This Court performed some preliminary legal research…and it truly was preliminary.  Based upon that research, we discerned that an amended complaint filed beyond the applicable Statute of Limitations could be entertained if there was “active concealment” regarding the identity of a potential defendant.  Because ‘active concealment” implicates questions of fact, we scheduled a factual hearing on the issue.  Eventually, the factual hearing occurred on July 10, 2020.  Prior to the factual hearing, both parties submitted a Statement of Facts.  Both sides stipulated to the facts set forth in their opponent’s submission.[2]  Thereafter, we entertained oral argument.

Following oral argument, it became apparent to the Court that a key component of our decision would involve how we defined the standard governing amendment of a complaint.  Is “active concealment” the guiding standard in all cases?  Do equitable principles such as the so-called “discovery rule” apply?  Given the practical realities of conducting discovery in a mass tort case, should the “active concealment” standard be relaxed?  These are questions for which we had no clear answer.  Therefore, we solicited legal briefs from the parties.

 

  1. LEGAL PRINCIPLES

A two (2) year statute of limitation applies to motor vehicle accident negligence cases.  42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5524(2).  “A plaintiff may not add a new defendant after the applicable statute of limitations has expired.”  Ferraro v. McCarthy-Pascuzzo, 777 A.2d 1128, 1132 (Pa. Super. 2001), citing Hoare v. Bell Telephone Company, 500 A.2d 1112 (Pa. 1985).  “Lack of knowledge, mistake or understanding do not toll the running of the statute of limitations.”  Pocono International Raceway v. Pocono Produce Company, 468 A.2d 468 (Pa. 1983).

Two equitable principles serve to excuse a tardy filing after the statute of limitations has expired: (1) The Discovery Rule; and (2) The Rule of Active Concealment.  The principles governing both of these equitable principles are similar but not identical.  We will briefly summarize the law pertaining to each.

  • Discovery Rule – Many Pennsylvania cases have declared that the statute of limitations is not triggered until a plaintiff knows of an injury and its cause. Fine v. Checcio, 870 A.2d 850 (Pa. 2005); Hayward v. Medical Center of Beaver County, 608 A.2d 1040 (Pa. 1992).  “The purpose of the Discovery Rule is to insure that persons who are reasonably unaware of an injury that is not immediately ascertainable have essentially the same rights as those who suffer an immediately ascertainable injury.”  Nicolaou v. Martin, 195 A.3d 880 (Pa. 2018).  The Discovery Rule has been most frequently applied in cases involving injury as a result of exposure to some toxic substance.  See¸ g. Anthony v. Koppers, 436 A.2d 181 (Pa. 1981).  Generally speaking, the Discovery Rule has not been historically applied in motor vehicle accident cases.  Mort v. Kapfhammer, 109 A.3d 244 (Pa. Super. 2015); Pulli v. Ustin, 24 A. 3d 421 (Pa. Super. 2011).

 

  • Active Concealment – When a party actively conceals the identity of a potentially culpable individual or entity, the statute of limitation is tolled. DeRugerilis v. Brenner, 348 A. 2d 139 (Pa. Super. 1975).  As a general rule, a defendant must commit “some affirmative independant act of concealment upon which plaintiffs justifiably relied.”  Kingston Coal Company v. Felton Mining, 690 A. 2d 284, 291 (Pa. Super. 1997).  Our Commonwealth’s highest Court recognized early in the history of Pennsylvania jurisprudence:

“While mere negligence will not prevent the running of the statute, ‘there is no reason, resting on general principles, why ignorance that is the result of a defendant’s conduct, and not of the stupidity or negligence of the plaintiff, should not prevent the running of the statute in favor of the wrongdoer.’” Schwab v. Cornell, 160 A. 449, 450 (Pa. 1932), quoting in part Lewey v. HC Frick Coke, 31 A.261. 262 (Pa. 1985).

 

There are several cases that have refused to equate the term “active concealment” with intentional fraud.  In Walters v. Ditzler, 227 A.2d 833 (Pa. 1967), the Court stated that a defendant’s conduct “need not be fraud in the strictest sense, i.e., inclusive of an intent to deceive, but may be fraud in a broad sense, i.e., inclusive of unintentional deception.” Id at 835.  In Schwab v. Cornell, supra, the Court stated:

“If the circumstances are such that a man’s eyes should have been open to what is occurring, then the statute begins to run from the time when he could have seen, but if by concealment, through fraud or otherwise, a screen has been erected by his adversary which effectively obscures the view of what has happened, the statute remains quiescent until actual knowledge arises.”

Id at page 450. See also, Nesbitt v. Erie Coach Company, 204 A.2d 473 (Pa. 1964) (emphasis supplied).

 

 

III.      ARGUMENTS OF THE PARTIES

In opposing the Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend, Fed-Ex focuses upon the Discovery Rule and how it is not applicable in a motor vehicle accident context.  In addition, Fed-Ex points out that the original Pennsylvania State Police accident report contains a reference to two Fed-Ex tractor trailer trucks.  Because this accident report was in the hands of Plaintiffs in June of 2017, Fed-Ex argues that Plaintiff should have had enough information to at least inquire about the identity of the second Fed-Ex driver.

In its initial brief, Plaintiff focused upon the so-called Discovery Rule.  In more recent filings, Plaintiff switched the focus of its argument to one of “unintentional concealment”.  Plaintiff argues that the totality of conduct by Fed-Ex rises to the level of “unintentional concealment” that should be deemed sufficient to trigger the “active concealment” exception to enforcement of the statute of limitations.  Plaintiff also points out that this case is so unusual and so complicated from a procedural posture that general rules of equity should be applied to preclude strict enforcement of the statute.

 

  1. ANALYSIS

We will begin our analysis by setting forth the definition of “active concealment” that we will apply to this case.  After reading copious decisional precedent, we hold as a matter of law that active concealment cannot be equated with wrongfully motivated or fraudulent behavior; intentional conduct can be enough, even if it is not undertaken in bad faith.  If the active conduct of a party obscures the identity of a potentially culpable party, that is sufficient to toll the statute of limitations, even if there is no fraudulent intent to deceive on the part of the defendant.  In addition, we will evaluate active concealment from the perspective of the Plaintiff given the real world exigencies that governed his situation.

With the above definition in mind, there are two key components to our analysis: (1) The effect of the procedural posture of this litigation; and (2) The conduct of Fed-Ex and its agents.  Before we separately address each component, it will be helpful to set forth a time-line of events that are relevant to our decision.  That time-line is as follows:

 

February 13, 2016 Date of accident
June 2017 3,500 page Pennsylvania State Police accident report made available to the parties.  The lead investigator later admitted that some portions of the report were lost and omitted from disclosure.
August 17, 2017 Fed-Ex and other Defendants filed a Motion to Coordinate in Lebanon County
September 30, 2017 A stay of all State Court cases was issued pending resolution of the Motion to Coordinate
February 21, 2018 An Order was entered coordinating all State Court cases for purposes of discovery
July 10, 2018 Uniform written discovery requests filed
November 1, 2018 Objections to written discovery filed by numerous parties, including Fed-Ex
December 4, 2018 Order issued to rule on objections to uniform written discovery requests
October 19, 2018 Federal Court litigation disclosures mention LEONID as an individual “likely to have discoverable information.”
November 30, 2018 Fed-Ex responds to discovery by identifying LEONID as “Driver of tractor-trailer driving ahead of Mr. Manvelidze on date of accident.”
Early 2019 Deposition of lead investigator Trooper Christopher Graf commenced.  That deposition has not yet been concluded.
January 28, 2019 Notice of deposition of LEONID filed
February 5, 2019 Deposition of LEONID postponed at the request of Fed-Ex
February 21, 2019 Lambert Pearce deposed.  Mr. Pearce disclosed that a tractor-trailer drove away from the pile-up to the right-hand shoulder of the road.

 

March 1, 2019 Attorney for Plaintiff represented to the Court that a tractor-trailer may have been missing from the diagram that had been prepared by the Court to identify the resting places of all vehicles involved in the accident.
October 15, 2019 Depositions of Jonathan and Jessica Seaver conducted.  The Seavers indicated that a white Volvo truck moved away from their location after the accident.  LEONID was driving a white Volvo truck, but so was Shota Manvelidze.
2019 – 2020 Numerous requests were submitted to depose LEONID.  All of those depositions, including ones sought in July of 2020, have been postponed.  As of today, LEONID has not yet been deposed.
November 29, 2019 Plaintiff filed Motion for Leave to file Second Amended Complaint in order to add LEONID as an additional party.

 

  1. Effect of procedural posture of litigation

Everyone involved in this case, including Fed-Ex, acknowledges that this litigation is complicated and unique.  The police report itself is 3,500 pages in length.  Twenty-five (25) lawsuits were initiated in seven (7) jurisdictions.  Over one-hundred (100) lawyers have been hired to represent parties who are embroiled in the litigation.  As acknowledged at the outset, this case has no precedent in Lebanon County.  It would be neither appropriate not fair for us to ignore the practical challenges created by the sheer size of this litigation.

Considering this case as an “ordinary” motor vehicle accident lawsuit would be naïve, and exhibiting such judicial naiveté would be profoundly unfair to any of the parties whose litigation strategy has been limited and/or impeded due to the Court-mandated requirement that each lawyer coordinate his/her efforts with over one-hundred (100) other attorneys.

We are aware that all discovery was stayed for almost six (6) months leading up to the running of the Statute of Limitations.  We are aware that scheduling of depositions is a monumental logistical task.  We are also aware that the depositions themselves will be elongated due to the sheer number of lawyers who will be asking questions of each witness.  To further complicate matters, one Defendant – John Casale – improvidently filed Joinder Motions against all sixty-three (63) other drivers who were in any way involved in the February 13, 2016 accident, even those who could not possibly have caused any harm to Mr. Casale.  Thus, depositions of many drivers were delayed because existing counsel thought it prudent for those drivers to obtain counsel due to Mr. Casale’s improvident joinder efforts.  If the above were not enough, the parties to this litigation have also been forced to cope with an unprecedented pandemic that led to a Judicial Emergency that literally stopped the wheels of the Pennsylvania justice system from turning for much of the spring and summer of 2020.

The impact of all of the above on the issue now before this Court is evident.  Plaintiff sought to depose LEONID in January of 2019.  For various reasons, the deposition of LEONID has yet to be conducted.  Moreover, even though the lead Pennsylvania State Police investigator sat for several days of depositions, several additional days are contemplated before his deposition will be considered concluded.  In terms of managing discovery, this Court has recognized practical challenges that the parties have faced in their effort to conduct meaningful discovery.[3]  So, too, must we recognize the practical challenges facing a plaintiff who is endeavoring within this environment to identify individuals who could be responsible for his harm.

Many, but not all, of the challenges outlined above were triggered by the Motion to Coordinate litigation within Lebanon County.  Fed-Ex was a moving party to that Motion. We believed in 2018 that coordination of discovery was appropriate, and we continue to adhere to that belief.  Nevertheless, it is a reality that the Coordination Motion created complications and delay that may not have existed had we permitted all 25 cases to proceed separately in the jurisdictions where they were filed.[4]  Although we do not fault Fed-Ex for filing its Motion to Coordinate, we cannot ignore the fact that the Motion to Coordinate has delayed the availability of information to Plaintiff about the existence and involvement of LEONID.  This is a factor that we will consider.

 

  1. Conduct of Fed-Ex

According to the information presented by the parties, LEONID is alleged to have moved his Fed-Ex tractor-trailer truck from an area adjacent to the pile-up to another area further ahead on I-78.  Although there is no evidence that LEONID left the scene once he pulled his truck further down the road, neither is there evidence that LEONID affirmatively approached police to advise them of where his truck had been located at the time of the pile-up accident.  The police accident report does not mention LEONID’s name, nor does it include information about LEONID’s vehicle.  At most, there is a passing reference in a witness statement to a second Fed-Ex truck  – other than the one operated by Shota Manvelidze – and there may, or may not, have been a photograph in the report that depicts LEONID’s truck at an oblique angle.  Without question, LEONID could have done more to advise police of where his vehicle was and what it was doing at the time of the accident.

Even after litigation ensued, there is no evidence that Fed-Ex affirmatively advised any other party that LEONID drove a truck that could have been in a position to block other vehicles from safely proceeding down the highway.  It was not until October 19, 2018 – after the running of the statute of limitations – that Fed-Ex first disclosed LEONID’s name as one “likely to have information” about the accident.  It was not until November 30, 2018 that Fed-Ex disclosed that LEONID was “driving ahead of Mr. Manvelidze on the date of the accident.”  We understand there is no affirmative duty on the part of Fed-Ex to assist other parties with an investigation of how this accident occurred, but nothing in the law prevented counsel for Fed-Ex from simply writing a letter in advance of the running of the statute of limitations to advise everyone of LEONID and the fact that he was driving ahead of Mr. Manvelidze on the date of the accident.  The fact that Fed-Ex had no legal duty to disclose this information does not change the fact that Fed-Ex concealed LEONID from all other parties to this litigation until Fed-Ex was forced by the Rules of Discovery to provide such disclosure.

We cannot characterize the conduct of LEONID or Fed-Ex to be wrongfully fraudulent.  However, the fact that LEONID moved his vehicle away from the remaining vehicles in the pile-up accident prior to arrival of police, the fact that LEONID did not approach the police to advise them of where the vehicle had been located or that he moved it, the fact that Fed-Ex did not affirmatively advise parties to this litigation of LEONID’s existence until after the statute of limitations had expired and the fact that Fed-Ex had a hand in filing the Motion to Coordinate that caused unusual discovery delay are all factors that caused prejudice to the Plaintiff.  Given all of these circumstances, it would be patently unfair to permit Shota Manvelidze and Fed-Ex to argue at trial – or acquiesce to the argument at trial – that “We weren’t at fault.  It was Leonid.”

Both the Discovery Rule and the Rule of Active Concealment are equitable doctrines.  Black’s Law Dictionary (9th Ed. 2009) defines “equity” as “The body of principles constituting what is fair and right.”  We conclude based upon the law outlined above and on principles of equity that Plaintiff should be permitted to join LEONID as an additional party and that Plaintiff should be permitted to add allegations against Fed-Ex based upon LEONID’s conduct.  An Order will be entered today to effectuate this conclusion.[5]

 

 

[1] Several cases were also filed in Federal Court.  Pursuant to conversation conducted between this jurist and Federal Court Administrative Judge Christopher Conner, discovery in the Federal dockets was also coordinated in Lebanon County.

[2] Both parties reserved the right to argue different “inferences” based upon the facts set forth in the submissions.

[3] Thus far, we have exercised patience regarding the timing of the parties’ discovery efforts.  As of yet, we have not chosen to impose deadlines, although we may contemplate doing so at an upcoming status conference.

[4] Of course, permitting 25 different cases to proceed separately regarding the same accident would have created many other complications and challenges that would have transcended those occasioned by the Coordination Order.

[5] Our decision today is identical to a decision authored by Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Shelley Robins-New, who granted a motion filed by Robert and Anna Bellacicco to add allegations against Fed-Ex and LEONID similar to the ones sought by Plaintiff herein. Although we did not technically adopt Plaintiff’s “law of the case” doctrine, we note that our decision today does maintain consistency with our sister court in Philadelphia, and consistency is important in litigation such as those stemming from the I-78 accident on February 13, 2016.

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