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CATHERINE BRUNETTI v. SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (07/13/84)

filed: July 13, 1984.

CATHERINE BRUNETTI,
v.
SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, APPELLANT



No. 2364 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Law, of Philadelphia County, 1980, September Term, No. 159

COUNSEL

Norman Hegge, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

S. David Fineman, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Cavanaugh, Montemuro and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Montgomery

[ 329 Pa. Super. Page 479]

This appeal arises from an order precluding the Appellant from asserting a defense and presenting testimony on the issues of both liability and damages, as a sanction for failure to obey a discovery order of the lower court.*fn1 The Appellant contends that the imposition of this sanction was inappropriate and constituted an abuse of discretion by the lower court. We agree and reverse and remand.

The Plaintiff-Appellee, Catherine Brunetti, filed a Complaint in Trespass against the Defendant-Appellant, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, seeking damages for personal injuries sustained as a result of a train accident which occurred on October 16, 1979. On

[ 329 Pa. Super. Page 480]

November 18, 1980, the Appellee filed and served upon Appellant written interrogatories and a request for production of documents, with notice to answer the same within thirty (30) days. On November 21, 1980, counsel for Appellant notified Appellee's counsel that liability would not be contested, and that unless advised to the contrary, the Appellant did not plan to respond to the Appellee's requests. On July 14, 1981, the Appellee's counsel wrote to Appellant's counsel, making a settlement demand. In this letter, he indicated that if the case was not amicably settled, he would insist upon answers to the interrogatories and request for production of documents. Thereafter, on February 11, 1982, the Appellee filed a motion for sanctions against the Appellant as a result of its failure to answer the written interrogatories and produce the requested documents. On March 29, 1982, the lower court entered an order, requiring the Appellant to file answers to the interrogatories and produce for inspection and copying those documents requested within twenty (20) days of the Order.

The Appellant failed to comply with the March 29, 1982 Order and the Appellee filed a second motion for sanctions. On July 26, 1982, the lower court granted this motion and ordered that the Appellant was precluded from asserting a defense and presenting testimony on the issues of both liability and damages.

The imposition of sanctions is governed by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 4019, which provides, in relevant parts:

(a)(1) The court may, on motion, make an appropriate order if

(i) a party fails to serve answers, sufficient answers or objections to written ...


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