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CARL ROYSTER v. MCGOWEN FORD (01/08/82)

filed: January 8, 1982.

CARL ROYSTER, RAYMOND HELTON, NATHANIEL KELLY AND ERNEST JACKSON, JR., APPELLANTS,
v.
MCGOWEN FORD, INC., PENN LEE FLEET SYSTEM, INC. AND FORD MOTOR COMPANY



No. 1561 PHILADELPHIA, 1980, Appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division-Trespass, of Philadelphia County, No. 2455 February Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Allen L. Feingold, Philadelphia, for appellants.

John F. Ledwith, Philadelphia, for McGowen, appellee.

William C. Foster, Philadelphia, for Penn Lee, appellee.

James J. Donohue, Philadelphia, for Ford, appellee.

Hester, Popovich and DiSalle, JJ. Popovich, J., concurs in the result. Decision was rendered prior to DiSalle, J., leaving the bench of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Author: Hester

[ 294 Pa. Super. Page 162]

This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, dated June 24, 1980, entering a Judgment of Non Pros against appellants for their failure to comply with an Order of court, dated August 27, 1979, requiring appellants to answer Interrogatories.

[ 294 Pa. Super. Page 163]

This action arose from a single-vehicle accident which occurred on April 21, 1976. The four appellants filed their complaint on March 21, 1978 alleging a products liability action against appellee Ford Motor Company. Appellants were occupying a 1976 Ford vehicle which went off the road and hit a tree as a result of an alleged "mechanical defect in the car". Appellants had leased the vehicle from appellee Penn Lee Fleet Systems, Inc., which had purchased the vehicle from appellee McGowen Ford, Inc.

On April 10, 1978, Ford served an initial set of Interrogatories upon appellants. These Interrogatories requested a detailed list of all injuries sustained in the accident in question, as well as a list of all witnesses, both factual and expert, that appellants had expected to testify on their behalf. Interrogatories 42 through 48 specifically requested information regarding appellants' expert witnesses. Appellants answered Interrogatories 42 through 48 by stating "plaintiffs have absolutely no idea who they will call as expert or medical witnesses at this time."*fn1

On April 30, 1979, Ford served a set of 10 expert Interrogatories upon appellants, which essentially sought the same information, as previously requested in Ford's initial set of Interrogatories (No. 42 through 48), concerning the identity, and substance of any opinions, of non-medical expert witnesses whom the appellants expected to testify at trial. On July 6, 1979, Ford filed a Motion to Compel Answers to the Expert Interrogatories. The lower court granted the motion of August 27, 1979, requiring full and complete answers within 45 days of the order. On March 31, 1980, Ford advised the appellants that it intended to file a Motion for Judgment of Non Pros unless the discovery was furnished within 15 days. The Motion for Entry of Non Pros was filed on April 15, 1980 and was granted by the lower court on

[ 294 Pa. Super. Page 164]

June 24, 1980. On August 19, 1980, appellants filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was denied by the lower court on September 9, 1980.

Prior to the entry of the Judgment of Non Pros, McGowen and Penn Lee, on February 20, 1980, also served Interrogatories on the appellants specifically limited to disclosure of expert witnesses. Appellants filed objections to these expert Interrogatories on or about March 18, 1980, as follows:

"Plaintiff objects to Interrogatories 1 to 3 inclusive for the following reasons: Plaintiff has already supplied this information to defense counsel in prior answers to Interrogatories as well as an extensive deposition. These Interrogatories are redundant, oppressive and harassing in nature; and are also burdensome in that they could have been directed in one set to all plaintiffs instead of in four separate sets further showing the defendant's attempt to harass plaintiffs herein."

On or about March 21, 1980, McGowen filed a Motion for Sanctions, including Judgment of Non Pros. On or about March 24, 1980, the appellants filed an answer to McGowen's Motion for Sanctions, which stated, inter alia :

"Plaintiffs had previously answered other Interrogatories from both defendants herein as well as from additional defendant and plaintiffs have also submitted themselves to an extensive deposition during which all of this information [relating to expert witnesses] was asked and plaintiffs answered same. Plaintiffs have no ...


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