Argued: June 7, 2018
BEFORE: HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, JAMES
GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judges.
GARDNER COLINS, SENIOR JUDGE.
an appeal filed by the City of Philadelphia (City) from an
order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County
(trial court) entering judgment against the City following a
jury verdict against it and its employee, Police Officer
Yvette Leduc (Officer Leduc) in a personal injury automobile
accident case brought by Debra Joers and her husband Ralph
D'Abruzzo, II (collectively, Plaintiffs). The appeal does
not challenge the jury's verdict against Officer Leduc or
the amount of damages awarded by the jury. The issues in this
appeal involve only the City's vicarious liability for
the accident. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm on
the ground that the City was bound by deemed admissions that
Officer Leduc was acting in the scope of her employment at
the time of the accident where it failed to respond to
requests for admissions until three months after the
discovery deadline and approximately one month before trial.
approximately 7:45 a.m. on September 30, 2015, Plaintiff
Joers was struck and injured by Officer Leduc's vehicle
when Joers was crossing an intersection in Center City
Philadelphia. (5/15/17 Trial Transcript (N.T.) at 75-83,
Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 138-140.) At the time of the
accident, Officer Leduc was driving her personal car from her
house to a criminal court hearing at which she was required
to appear and testify in her capacity as a police officer and
was in uniform and carrying her service weapon. (Id.
at 161-65, R.R. at 160-161; 5/16/17 N.T. at 60-61, 69, R.R.
at 184-185, 187.) Plaintiff Joers suffered fractures of her
left arm and left leg in the accident that required surgery,
hospitalization and rehabilitation.
February 29, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the
City and Officer Leduc alleging that Officer Leduc was
negligent and that the City was liable for her actions on the
ground that she was acting within the scope of her employment
at the time of the accident. The City denied the averments of
Plaintiffs' complaint. The trial court's case
management order required that all discovery be completed by
January 2, 2017 and that the case be ready for trial by May
1, 2017. (Docket Entries, R.R. at 32.)
September 7, 2016, Plaintiffs served on the City a set of
requests for admissions pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. No. 4014 (the
Request for Admissions) seeking admissions concerning the
accident, Officer Leduc's employment with the City, and
Plaintiff Joers' injuries and damages. Among the items
that Plaintiffs requested that the City admit were the
6. During the week of Sunday, September 27, 2015 through
Saturday October 3, 2015, Leduc's regularly scheduled
shift was 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
* * *
17. Police officers employed by the City are acting within
the scope of their employment when they are traveling to
court to provide testimony in criminal matters pursuant to
* * *
27. At the time Leduc struck Plaintiff Deborah Joers on
Wednesday, September 30, 2015, Leduc was being compensated
for her time by the City.
* * *
30. If Leduc had not been on her way to the Criminal Justice
Center on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at approximately 7:45
a.m., she would have been working as a patrol officer at the
39th District of the Philadelphia Police Department.
31. On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, Leduc's hours of
work were 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
32. At the time Leduc struck Plaintiff Deborah Joers on
Wednesday, September 30, 2015, Leduc was acting within the
course and scope of her employment with the City.
33. On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at approximately 7:45
a.m., Leduc was acting in the course and scope of her
34. On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at approximately 7:45
a.m., Leduc was not pursuing an activity unreleated ...