Favorable Ruling Obtained by Willman & Silvaggio, LLP, Awarding Client Summary Judgment Based Upon the Expiration of the Statute of Limitations  

6/9/2010
 
On May 27, 2010, the PA Superior Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Common Pleas granting the defendant Mozart Management’s motion for summary judgment regarding Daniel Torisky’s personal injury claim.  Mr. Torisky’s claims for personal injuries and loss of consortium arose as a result of his fall allegedly caused by black ice in a parking lot operated by Mozart Mgmt.
In his complaint, Mr. Torisky claimed that the accident occurred on March 4, 2006. His complaint was filed on February 21, 2008. Discovery, however, revealed that the incident occurred on February 18, 2006.  Because the plaintiff had commenced litigation three days after the two-year statute of limitations period had expired pursuant to 42 Pa C.S.A. § 5524(7), the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment requesting the Court to dismiss the entire case based on the statute of limitations.
On June 26, 2009, the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County granted Mozart Mgmt’s motion for summary judgment with prejudice, since Mr. Torisky had a duty to diligently investigate the facts surrounding his claims and failed to do so in a timely manner. The Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant fraudulently concealed the date of the accident.
In his appeal to the PA Superior Court, Mr. Torisky argued that the Court should adopt the more flexible approach espoused in McCreesh v. City of Philadelphia, which permitted a plaintiff’s personal injury case to continue even after the statute of limitations had run. However, the Court distinguished McCreesh as a case that protects plaintiffs only in situations where the defendant had actual notice of the commencement of litigation but failed to technically receive proper service within the statute of limitations period.  In the instant case, Mr. Torisky did not even initiate a cause of action until after the statute of limitations had already run so that Mozart Mgmt had no prior notice of the lawsuit.
In addition, the Superior Court rejected Mr. Torisky’s fraudulent concealment argument by relying on the generally accepted principle enumerated in Pocono Int’l Raceway v. Pocono Produce: “The statute of limitations begins to run as soon as the right to institute and maintain a suit arises; lack of knowledge, mistake or understanding do not toll the running of the statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations standard advances the public policy concern with expediting litigation and discouraging delay in the presentation of valid claims, so that the search for the truth remains uninhibited by “stale claims due to the passage of time and the dimming of memories.”    
 Therefore, because McCreesh was inapposite to the circumstances underlying the present case, and Mr. Torisky failed to allege anything more than mistake, lack of knowledge, or misunderstanding, there were no remaining genuine issues of material fact so that the award of summary judgment was proper in favor of the defendant Mozart Management.   
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