Nicholas Malfitano Apr. 8, 2016, 11:23am


PHILADELPHIA – Counsel for a defendant faced with a default judgment in a subrogation action pointed to personal issues as the cause for their client’s being remiss in responding to legal correspondence relating to the original complaint.

Kristen N. Spinale filed a motion to open judgment on Jan. 28, explaining though defendant Mattie Davis of Philadelphia was served with a complaint on March 7, 2015 and a response was due by April 7, 2015, she had recently lost three immediate family members – and as a layperson, assumed the motor vehicle accident around which the case revolved wasn’t her fault, and thus she didn’t need to respond to the “false allegations” contained in the complaint.

Spinale said defense counsel was not made aware of any issue until the subrogation action was filed by plaintiff State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in regards to the defendant, leading Spinale to enter her appearance on Dec. 17 and to request plaintiff counsel to open judgment on Dec. 29.

Spinale’s request was denied by plaintiff counsel, leading her to file the motion to open judgment, since her client has a meritorious defense – that the driver of the other vehicle was negligent in making an unclear and unsafe merge into her lane of travel. According to defense counsel, the petition to open judgment was filed as timely as possible and reasons provided were valid.

A hearing in this matter was set for this past Thursday in Court chambers, at Philadelphia City Hall.

The lawsuit claims State Farm agreed to insure a vehicle they owned, which was involved in a subject accident. On July 4, 2013, Davis allegedly was the operator of a vehicle which “negligently, recklessly and/or carelessly” collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle at or near 1600 North Delaware Avenue in Philadelphia.

As a result, the plaintiff’s insured vehicle incurred property damage and rental damage in the amount of $2,126.18, and the plaintiff became subrogated to the claim of the insured against the defendant. Therefore, the plaintiff demands judgment against the defendant for $2,126.18, plus interest and costs.

Plaintiff counsel Benjamin V. Lawrence sought default judgment on May 11 last year for this same amount, which was approved on Aug. 27.

The plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs and other relief in this case.

The plaintiff is represented by Lawrence of Weltman Weinberg & Reis, in Philadelphia.

The defendant is represented by Spinale of Raymond W. Ruthrauff Jr. & Associates, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 140902764

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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