HARRISBURG — The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that a lower court didn’t abuse its discretion when it consolidated two lawsuits stemming from a business relationship gone bad, according to a decision filed on April 3.
The appeal was heard by judges Victor P. Stabile, Carolyn H. Nichols and Lillian Harris Ransom, who wrote the court’s decision.
The case revolves around a business relationship between David E. Kissling and the founders of Healthcare Evolution, Emma and Robert Singh.
In June 2015. Kissling sued the Singhs in Berks County for alleged breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment and violations of the Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPLC). He claims that he had a verbal contract to provide services in exchange for a one-third ownership interest in the business “if and when revenue doubled,” according to the appellate court’s decision.
After a client referral allegedly resulted in a $3 million increase in revenue, Kissling claimed that he was supposed to become a part owner in the company and earn a monthly salary of $12,500. But the Singhs allegedly told him that they were terminating the agreement and that he wouldn’t receive any ownership interests or a salary.
In May 2017, the Singhs filed a complaint in Montgomery County against Kissling, Professional Pharmacy & Convalescent Products LTD and two other defendants for alleged “tortious interference with current and prospective economic advantage, unfair competition, aiding and abetting tortious conduct and fraud,” according to the appellate court’s decision.
“Essentially, [the] appellants claimed that at the time he was hired, [the] appellee grossly misrepresented his work experience and contacts,” Ransom wrote in the appellate court’s decision. “[The] appellants contend that as a result of these misrepresentations, they ended their affiliation with him. [The] appellee then allegedly used Healthcare Evolution’s confidential information to poach customers.”
Kissling subsequently filed a motion in Berks County to consolidate the two actions, and the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County granted the action. As a result, the trial court transferred the Montgomery County case to Berks County.
It its decision, the trial court noted that the case had already been going on for nearly two years “and it would be wasteful for a new court to get up to speed,” according to the appellate court’s decision. The trial court also noted that Berks and Montgomery Counties “are close enough that there is no location-based detriment to the parties.”
The Singhs, for their part, appealed the trial court's decision, questioning whether the two cases should be consolidated in Berks County.
However, the appellate judges sided with the trial court. The appellate court ruled that the trial court did not err when it consolidated the two actions because they "have common questions of fact."
“We decline to find that the court abused its discretion in coordinating these actions and particularly in coordinating them in Berks County,” Ransom wrote in the appellate court’s decision.