Lawyer argues clerical error led him to miss arbitration hearing and asks for judgment's opening

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jul 11, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – An attorney has credited a potential clerical error for his unawareness of an arbitration date, which later led his client to suffer a Judgment of Non Pros in his litigation related to a 2013 car accident.

Howard G. Smith filed a motion to open judgment on May 17, explaining he did not notice the arbitration date of March 15 on the court documents and thus, did not attend the hearing. Therefore, a Judgment of Non Pros was handed down against his client Robert Bottini, in his case against defendant Charles Slaughter.

Smith said the arbitration date was listed in the body of the document in non-boldface print, leading him to misread the court’s “confusing” notice and miss the scheduled arbitration hearing. Therefore, Smith asked for the Judgment of Non Pros to be opened on this basis.

On July 1, 2013, the defendant drove his vehicle to merge onto Route 63 eastbound from Route 1 northbound in Philadelphia, when he struck the right rear of the car in which the plaintiff was traveling, with the front left side of his own vehicle. At the time, the plaintiff was driving straight on Route 63 eastbound.

According to the lawsuit, the defendant negligently operated his own vehicle without proper control, speed, attention, care and caution. As a result, Bottini says he suffered pain, emotional distress, lost wages, loss of earning potential and costs incurred for medical expenses.

The plaintiff elected for the “full tort” option on the relevant insurance policy, or the plaintiff may recover full damages as if he had, because the defendant: (1) was convicted for driving under the influence at the time of the accident and admitted into Acceptive Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD); (2) was operating a vehicle registered in another state; (3) intended to injure himself or another person at the time of the accident and; (4) did not, at the time of the accident, maintain financial responsibility as required by Pennsylvania law.

The plaintiff is seeking damages not in excess of $50,000 in this case.

The plaintiff is represented by Smith in Andalusia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150602225

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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