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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Releases New Rules of Civil Procedure

Recently, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania promulgated new Rules of Civil Procedure dealing with cross claims and joinder, certificates of merit, and notice of intent to file non pros. These rules are effective immediately.

1. Cross Claims & Joinder:

Effective June 1, 2007, all cross claims are governed by Pa.R.C.P. 1031.1 – Crossclaim. Prior to this, such claims were governed by Pa.R.C.P. 2252. Right to Join Additional Defendants, specifically under subdivision (d), now rescinded.

Under the newly amended Pa. R.C.P. 2252, Joinder of Additional Defendants is limited to the joinder of persons not already parties to the action.

2. Certificates of Merit:

According to the newly amended Pa.R.C.P. 1042.3(c)(2), similar to the Rule regarding a Defendant who joins a licensed professional as an Additional Defendant, a Defendant who asserts a cross claim against a licensed professional must file a certificate of merit if the cross claim is based on negligence that is unrelated to the acts of negligence that are the basis for the claims against the cross claiming party.

3. Notice Of Intent To File Non Pros:

Newly enacted Pa.R.C.P. 1042.6, requires a Defendant to give a thirty (30) day Notice before filing a Praecipe for a judgment of non pros for failing to file a certificate of merit. Under the new Rule, notice does not need to be given where the court has granted an extension of time to file a certificate of merit and the plaintiff fails to do so or where the court denies a motion to extend time for such filing. Pa. R.C.P. 1042.6(b). If a notice is filed, the plaintiff may file a motion to seek "a determination by the court that the filing of a certificate of merit is not required." Filing such a motion will toll the time period for which the certificate of merit must be filed until a ruling is rendered. Pa.R.C.P. 1042.6(c). However, if it is determined that a certificate of merit is required, the new Rule provides that the certificate of merit must be filed within twenty (20) days of the entry of the order or the original time period, whichever is later – thereby, potentially providing plaintiff with additional time to file the certificate of merit.

The Rule pertaining to entry of judgment of non pros (formerly Pa.R.C.P. 1042.6, now Pa.R.C.P. 1042.7) has also been amended to conform to the new notice Rules.

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