Superior Court upholds dismissal of personal injury case due to inactivity

By Dawn Geske | Dec 20, 2017

HARRISBURG – A personal injury case that was inactive for seven years has been denied reinstatement by the state Superior Court.

The Superior Court ruled Dec. 12 that the Erie County Court of Common Pleas' ruling denying reinstatement was not an unlawful action by the court.

The case involved defendant Dorothy A. Golab, who filed an appeal against the trial court’s order to terminate the case for inactivity. Stacy M. Knuth challenged the motion for reinstatement and was granted her request as the court ordered the termination order to stay in place for the case, stating that it is the defendant’s responsibility to move a case forward and that sufficient notice was provided for termination in the case.

The case regards an automobile accident that occurred in May 2005 in which Golab was injured and filed a civil claim against Knuth on July 20, 2007, according to the court's opinion. Knuth responded to the complaint on Aug. 2, 2007, and both parties began discovery in the case.

Case discovery was anticipated to be completed by May 2009, according to the court opinion, with a trial expected in October 2009. While both parties entered their pretrial narratives, no trial date was set, and the case didn’t proceed forward. 

On Oct. 16, 2015, termination notice of the case was published in the Erie County Legal Journal due to inactivity unless the parties in the case appeared in court on Nov. 30, 2015, to reinstate the case with good cause. Both parties failed to appear for the court date, and on Dec. 2, 2015, an order to terminate the case was entered. 

About a year following the termination, Golab filed a motion to reinstate the case stating that her counsel had developed health issues that prevented him from moving forward with the trial and that she did not receive notice of the termination by mail. 

Knuth objected the motion for reinstatement on Nov. 14, 2016. While the trial court entered an order to reinstate the case, Knuth objected again filing a motion to reconsider the order, according to the court's opinion. The court considered the motion but denied. Golab appealed, and the trial court issued a short memorandum opinion denying reinstatement. 

Golab appealed for consideration on the failure of proper notice, and an error of law by the court. The court reviewed and found in favor of Knuth stating in the court opinion that “the trial court did not abuse its discretion or commit an error of law.”

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